Passenger Transport - July 27, 2012
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LaHood: Major Increase in TIFIA Funding

DOT Secretary Ray LaHood announced today the availability of up to $17 billion in loans for critical U.S. infrastructure projects across the country through the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA). The recently enacted surface transportation authorization bill, the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), provides $1.7 billion in TIFIA capital funding over two years, up from $120 million in Fiscal Year 2012.

“Americans have always done big things—not in spite of hard times, but as a means of overcoming them,” LaHood said. “That’s why the Obama Administration is launching the largest infrastructure loan program in our history: these investments will help cities and states create jobs right away building the big transportation projects we need to make sure our economy continues to grow and prosper.”

With the increased funding in MAP-21, TIFIA is now the largest transportation infrastructure finance fund in DOT’s history. Each dollar of federal funds can provide approximately $10 in TIFIA credit assistance, meaning $17 billion in loans through TIFIA, which in turn can leverage $20 billion-$30 billion in transportation infrastructure investment.

Altogether, the expanded federal loan program could result in up to $50 billion in federal, state, local and private sector investment for critical transportation projects across the country.

LaHood also announced establishment of the Project Finance Center to help state and local government project sponsors analyze financial options for public transit, rail, highway, intermodal, and other surface transportation projects facing funding challenges.

DOT Announces $787 Million for Bus, Infrastructure Projects

DOT Secretary Ray LaHood announced awards totaling $787 million in competitive grants for 255 projects in 48 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, for “state of good repair” or “livability” grants under Section 5309 of the Bus and Bus Facilities program.

The funding solicitation issued in the Feb. 7, 2012, Federal Register prioritized amounts for the two different purposes.

DOT announced that it selected the recipients from among 836 applications that requested a total of $4 billion.

“President Obama’s support for an America built to last is putting people back to work across the country repairing and upgrading our nation’s public transit systems,” LaHood said. “By investing in the transit infrastructure people depend on to get where we need to go each day, we will keep our economy moving forward well into the future.”

FTA Administrator Peter M. Rogoff added: “For millions of Americans, these investments mean that they may more reliably and safely get to work to earn a paycheck or get to daycare to pick up their children on time, or simply have new choices to enjoy the communities in which they live.”

Examples of the projects selected include:

Maryland DOT: $40 million to replace Baltimore’s 65-year-old Kirk Division Bus Facility with two sustainable “green” buildings that will help reduce operating costs, create local construction jobs in Northeast Baltimore, and enable more than 350 local public transit employees to maintain a growing fleet of new, energy-efficient buses that are now serviced elsewhere.

New Jersey Transit Corporation: $76 million to upgrade its statewide bus fleet, lower commuting times, improve air quality for state residents, and save on fuel by doubling the fleet of fuel-efficient buses. The state also will introduce new hybrid coaches to improve the commute to New York City and institute Bus Rapid Transit service between Camden County and downtown Philadelphia.

Los Angeles Metro: $15 million to replace aging buses with vehicles powered with compressed natural gas.

San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency: $15 million to introduce new 40-foot hybrid buses as replacements for 40-foot diesel buses.

Capital Area Transportation Authority, Lansing, MI: $6.3 million to redevelop a former Amtrak station near Michigan State University into the Capital Area Multi-Modal Gateway Project, which will improve bicycle and pedestrian access and connections to local bus and rail service.

Charlotte Area Transit System, Charlotte, NC: $4 million to replace diesel buses that have met or exceeded their useful lives with new hybrid technology buses that will reduce emissions, save on fuel costs, and reduce long-term maintenance costs.

An interactive map of this year’s projects, along with a searchable table, can be found here.



Photo by Jon Berle, Maryland Transit Administration

DOT Secretary Ray LaHood, at podium, speaks at the announcement of a $40 million federal grant to upgrade the Kirk Division Bus Facility in Baltimore. Looking on are, from left, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), Maryland DOT Deputy Secretary Darrell B. Mobley, and Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD).

Participants at a ceremony where San Francisco Bay area public transit agencies received federal funding include, from left, Jeff Gee, board member, San Mateo County Transit District, San Carlos, CA; Verna Patti, representing House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA); Brian Perkins, representing Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA); Cheryl Brinkman, vice chair, SFMTA Board of Directors; Elsa Ortiz, board president, AC Transit, Oakland, CA; FTA Deputy Administrator Therese McMillan; Jose Luis Moscovich, executive director, San Francisco County Transportation Authority; San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee; and Ed Reiskin, director of transportation, SFMTA.


APTA Hosts Webinar on MAP-21 Provisions

Today, almost 1,000 people participated in a webinar organized by APTA on the recently enacted surface transportation authorization bill, the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21).

Key congressional committee staff from the Senate and House who wrote the transit provisions of MAP-21, along with APTA's Government Affairs staff, explained the details and intricacies of the new law and answered questions in an effort to help members better understand the legislation.

Slides and a recording of the webinar will be posted shortly on the APTA website.

APTA Nominating Committee Selects 2012-2013 Slate; Varga Chosen as Vice Chair

At its July 18 meeting in Chicago, APTA’s 2012 Nominating Committee selected the current vice chair—Flora M. Castillo, a board member for New Jersey Transit Corporation, Newark, NJ—as APTA chair for 2012-2013. Peter Varga, chief executive officer, Interurban Transit Partnership (The Rapid), Grand Rapids, MI, was nominated vice chair and Doran J. Barnes, executive director, Foothill Transit, West Covina, CA, secretary-treasurer.

APTA Immediate Past Chair Michael J. Scanlon, general manager and chief executive officer, San Mateo County Transit District & Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board, San Carlos, CA, chaired the nominating committee.

Nominated as members-at-large of the APTA Executive Committee were Huelon (Hugh) Harrison, principal, Legacy Resource Group, Dallas, TX; Angela Iannuzziello, vice president, Canada national transit market sector lead, AECOM, Markham, ON; Joseph Lhota, chairman and chief executive officer, Metropolitan Transportation Authority, New York, NY; and Rosa Navajar, board vice chair, Fort Worth Transportation Authority, Fort Worth, TX.

Public transit agency representatives nominated as members-at-large of the APTA Board of Directors are Michael Allegra, general manager, Utah Transit Authority, Salt Lake City, UT; Kunjan Dayal, director of procurement and contracts, Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon, Portland, OR; Rufus Francis, director of safety, Sacramento Regional Transit District, Sacramento, CA; Lee Gibson, chief executive officer, Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County, Reno, NV; Mark Huffer, general manager, Kansas City Area Transportation Authority, Kansas City, MO; Darrell Johnson, deputy chief executive officer, Orange County Transportation Authority, Orange, CA; and Jeanne Krieg, chief executive officer, Eastern Contra Costa Transportation Authority, Antioch, CA.

Board member nominees representing APTA business members are Jeff Boothe, partner, Holland & Knight LLP, Washington, DC; Maryanne Roberts, senior advisor, communications and public affairs, U.S., Bombardier Transportation, Horsham, PA; and Al Engel, principal, Al Engel Consulting, Telford, PA

APTA members will select officers and board members Sept. 7 during the association’s virtual Annual Business Meeting and Election, at 5 p.m. Eastern time. APTA will send call-in information to each member organization’s designated contact in the next few weeks.

The virtual election will allow the board to begin work immediately at the 2012 Annual Meeting, with a Saturday morning orientation for new board members followed by a working session of the full board beginning at noon.

Nippon Sharyo Opens Its First U.S. Railcar Manufacturing Plant

Nippon Sharyo Manufacturing LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Nippon Sharyo U.S.A. Inc., began operations July 19 at its new passenger railcar production facility in Rochelle, IL—its first in the U.S.

In attendance at the grand opening ceremony were approximately 500 federal, state, city, and other municipal governments, related organizations, clients, contractors, and vendors.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn spoke during the event, saying: “Nippon Sharyo is creating 250 new jobs in Illinois and strengthening Illinois’ leadership in the manufacturing industry.”

The company reported two main goals in opening this U.S. production facility: to increase competitiveness in the nation’s expanding passenger railcar market and to respond to increased demand for Buy America and localization of the passenger railcar industry. Nippon Sharyo also said it expects the new facility to decrease total production costs by reducing transportation expenditures and mitigating exchange rate fluctuations. It also offers greater flexibility for production planning and delivery schedules while increasing the Buy America content and providing job opportunities.

The facility’s first contract is for 160 gallery-type Electric Multiple Units to Metra commuter rail in Chicago, with shipping of the first car scheduled for September and delivery of the last car in the summer of 2015. Other current orders are 12 Diesel Multiple Unit (DMU) cars for California’s Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit; 18 DMUs for Metrolinx in Toronto; and eight gallery-type bi-level passenger cars for Virginia Railway Express in Alexandria, VA.

Nippon Sharyo employs about 140 workers at the Rochelle plant and expects to increase that number close to 300 when the in-house manufacture of stainless steel carbody shells enters full operation next year. As part of the training process, more than 50 new employees went to the company’s facilities in Japan over 12 weeks to work on skills such as welding, interior, mechanical, electrical, quality control, and inspection.


Cutting the ribbon at Nippon Sharyo’s railcar production facility in Rochelle, IL, are, from left: front row, Akira (Kevin) Koyasu, president, Nippon Sharyo USA; Akira Nakagawa, president, Nippon Sharyo Ltd.; Katsuyuki Ikushima, chairman, Nippon Sharyo; Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn; FRA Deputy Administrator Karen Hedlund; and Matt Erskine, acting assistant secretary of commerce for economic development; back row, former Illinois state Sen. Brad Burzynski; state Rep. Robert Pritchard; state Sen. Christine Johnson; David Vaught, director, state Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity; and Brad Middleton, representing Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL).


Mayors: Urgent Need to Invest in Infrastructure to Maintain Economic Growth

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel in Washington, DC on July 20 discussed both the connection between job creation and critical infrastructure investment and innovative ways urban centers nationwide can support this kind of investment in times of economic difficulties and decreased public spending. He focused on the new Chicago Infrastructure Trust, the first public-private financing model for infrastructure investments—including support for an overburdened transportation system—in the country.

Support for Chicago Plan
“We support the Emanuel Administration’s emphasis on investing in Chicago’s urban infrastructure as well as looking outside the box to leverage private financing for these projects," said Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, who serves as president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM). “In this era of tight budgets, mayors across the country are looking for new ways to keep their urban infrastructure from crumbling through smart and strategic investments that increase economic growth and job creation as well as keep cities modern.”

U.S. Conference of Mayors’ Report
While the nation’s cities and their metropolitan areas continue to make steady progress toward economic recovery, USCM notes that there is a downside should cities not increase their investment in transportation infrastructure. According to U.S. Metro Economies Outlook: Gross Metropolitan Product, and Critical Role of Transportation Infrastructure, a new USCM report, this lack of investment could lead to skyrocketing costs to families, commuters, and businesses, potentially doubling over the next decade.

The report examines the likely impact of population increases, employment growth, export expansion, and economic output on metropolitan areas. It forecasts that, by the end of this year, 300 of the nation’s 363 metro areas will experience real economic growth (gross metro product), and predicts a nationwide employment increase of 1.4 percent and a real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth of 2.0 percent over the remainder of the year.

“This report clearly shows that economic recovery is improving slowly, but surely,” said Nutter.

However, the report also projects growth in U.S. metropolitan areas over the next 30 years that the current system of infrastructure will not be able to absorb. It points to a 32 percent growth in U.S. metro areas—almost 84 million people—over that period. More specifically, it lists 59 metro areas likely to see population increases of more than 50 percent, 21 that may see 75 percent growth; and three whose populations will more than double.

During their recent Summer Leadership Meeting, mayors argued that failure to dramatically expand U.S. infrastructure may threaten the nation’s global competitiveness and future economic growth. For example, transportation and water infrastructure funding account for only 2.4 percent of U.S. GDP in recent years, compared with 5 percent in Europe and 9 percent in China.

The complete text of the report is available here.

MVTA Adds Level Boarding to Apple Valley Transit Station

In preparation for implementation of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) on its Cedar Corridor, the Minnesota Valley Transit Authority (MVTA) in Burnsville, MN, recently reopened its Apple Valley Transit Station (AVTS) with updated features such as special curbing to enable level or “step-free” boarding.

Two of the four northbound bays and one southbound bay now offer level boarding platforms. MVTA explained that—while the new design provides improved accessibility for older and visually impaired riders and persons with disabilities—level boarding will improve boarding times for all passengers.

“Every passenger boarding adds time to the route, and that impacts everyone else sitting on the bus,” said Shaun Morrell, MVTA planner. “Level boarding improves the efficiency of the passenger loading process. If you can shave off even a second or two per rider by having them step directly from the platform onto the bus, it can add up to real time savings.”

MVTA Executive Director Beverley Miller called the change “a significant milestone for MVTA … we are excited about using this innovation to enhance the riding experience. We expect it will help us increase ridership and therefore reduce congestion on area highways—a key component of our strategic plan.”

Atlanta Mayor Headlines Transit Board Seminar in Atlanta

BY LYNNE MORSEN, APTA Senior Program Manager-Program Management and Educational Services

All eyes were on the Atlanta region the week before its one-cent sales tax ballot measure was scheduled for a vote (July 31)—as 90 board members and staff from bus and rail agencies visited July 21-24 to participate in APTA’s 2012 Transit Board Members Seminar & Board Support Employee Development Workshop, hosted by the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA).

APTA Chair Gary Thomas, APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy, and MARTA General Manager/Chief Executive Officer Beverly A. Scott were among those making presentations.

Speaker after speaker highlighted the need for investing in public transportation. The keynote speaker, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, gave impassioned remarks, noting that when he worked with Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal in community meetings in the 10-county area that will be affected by the ballot initiative, “traffic and congestion came up first.” Reed said traffic was one reason why Time-Warner decided last year to locate 1,000 jobs in Tampa rather than Atlanta.

“This is a regional challenge,” he said. “The leading world cities are moving towards transit. Many young people choose to live in town and not to own cars. Transportation investment is also important for the tourism industry which affects thousands of jobs.”

In reference to what has become a controversial transportation referendum, Reed said: “We’re taking on a tough problem. People all over the country are watching what we're doing.”

Catherine L. Ross, director, Center for Quality Growth and Regional Development, Georgia Institute of Technology, agreed. “Transportation is economic development,” she said. “Redevelopment and regeneration needs transit from the beginning. This makes transit a fundamental part of the community in solving economic problems—jobs—rather than thinking only of what time the bus shows up.”

Ross discussed 10 growing, consolidating U.S. economic regions, saying that—although 70 percent of U.S. residents will live in a connected mega-region by 2050—“We’re not planning this way.” She said: “Changes in governance rather than government are needed; there’s a difference. We already have metropolitan planning organizations. A new governance model for mega-regions could include MPOs on steroids.”

She suggested that agreements can cross state lines as long as they don’t go against state covenants and said arrangements among state DOTs are needed to work on water, energy, and transportation issues.

“The connected economic regions will do well because there will be economic opportunities that we can take advantage of. They can be more self-sustaining and can provide transit much more efficiently so the regions can be competitive and sustain themselves financially,” added Ross.

Working together was also the theme of Edward Jennings Jr., regional administrator for Department of Housing and Urban Development Region IV in Atlanta, who suggested that transit boards could meet with housing authority boards.

“Fifty-two cents of each dollar spent is on housing and transportation,” he said. “The majority of over 700 projects funded in our region the past three years by HUD Region IV were done with the DOT.”

Jennings cited Memphis as an example of leveraging HUD and DOT funds together, adding: “Of $250 million in grants the past three years, an additional $240 million were leveraged in private investment, so it isn’t only leveraging funds among public agencies.”


MARTA Board Member Noni Ellison-Southall, left, with current and past officers of the APTA Transit Board Members Committee at the workshop in Atlanta: from second from left, Valarie McCall, the committee's new secretary; incoming Chair Fred Daniels; outgoing Chair Crystal Lyons; and past Chair Alison A. Hewitt.


Meet Deborah Stenoien!

Deborah Stenoien
Vehicle Maintenance Superintendent, Non-Revenue Vehicles
King County Metro Transit
Seattle, WA
Leadership APTA Class of 2012

How many people does your agency employ? Between 5,000 and 6,000.

How long have you worked in the public transportation industry? 20 years.

How long have you been an APTA member?
Since 2011. I wish I’d joined sooner, but most of my career has been spent as a mechanic and APTA wasn’t really on the map for me until I was promoted to a management position.

What drew you to a career in public transportation?
My brother was a bus driver and he encouraged me to give transit a try. I’m glad he did. It’s important to me to do work that contributes to our community and I believe public transit to be a critical part of our infrastructure and our lives. I want to be involved in something where you give back and provide service to the community.

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

I use the APTA website a lot. There are so many resources where I can go in and find out about other agencies, people to contact, and published research materials. I can also look up past issues of Passenger Transport to read articles on items of interest. In short, APTA’s website is a portal I use to obtain information I need.

Another benefit? Leadership APTA! It’s a fantastic program. It’s been an unbelievably positive experience of professional growth and development for me—and fun at the same time!

Please explain why or how this has helped.
I’m involved in developing a maintenance staffing model—I’m part of two project teams: one regional and one for our agency. So to find information on this topic, one of the first places I went to look was APTA’s website. From there I found out about another website and downloaded a research paper on maintenance staffing done on several Florida transit agencies.  This was exactly what I was looking for—and I found this example through APTA.

Another example: As I continue work on my Leadership APTA project on social media, I searched past issues of Passenger Transport—and found stories that helped inform me on the people and the organizations involved in this topic.

What do you like most about your job?
The challenges and the variety of the tasks I have to do. Learning new things, such as procurement of non-revenue vehicles and the maintenance of the non-revenue fleet, is so very different from bus maintenance, the world I came from.

I’m also involved in a workforce development project for vehicle maintenance employees, focusing on career and leadership development. We’re providing a support network for those newly promoted into leadership positions, plus we are mentoring those people in our system who would like to be more competitive for future promotions.

What I think is a key element of what we’re doing is—it’s an all-volunteer program. We have no selection process; it’s completely open and equitable for employees to be in the career development program. It’s an opportunity for any employee who wants to take the next step in his or her career to learn what it takes to be successful. This program was a leap of faith for us; we didn’t really know what the interest level would be before we launched it. Our employees have been outstanding, both as mentors and as participants.

What is unique about your agency?
Our commitment to green technology and to the environment of the Puget Sound area. We were the first transit agency to procure and operate 60-foot hybrid coaches and we continue to increase the percentage of hybrid coaches in our fleet—both 40- and 60-foot coaches. Our non-revenue fleet is made up of about 12 percent hybrid or alternative fuel vehicles. This commitment to our environment is truly agency-wide: in the design and construction of new buildings, the things we procure or purchase, our vehicles, and our everyday operations. For example; we have a comprehensive recycling program. We recycle newspapers, scrap metals, consumables such as engine oil, batteries—even used trolley rope!

I’m also very proud of our commitment to safety at King County Metro Transit. Safety is a part of our work day, every day, whether it’s operating a vehicle in revenue service, making a repair on a coach, or working at a desktop computer. We continually look for ways to improve safety and we engage our employees to help us. Practicing safety at work is part of our culture.

Make sure you see Deborah Stenoien’s video, now that you've read this!


Meet Karen Harvey!

Karen Harvey
Director-Human Resources
Executive Office

What are your primary job responsibilities?
I am responsible for the recruitment and retention of all APTA employees. That means, when we want to fill a position here, I compose all the advertisements, place them accordingly, handle all the interviews—and I think, after 15 years, I’m a pretty good judge of who is a good fit for APTA.

I’m also responsible for benefits administration: medical, dental, life insurance, long- and short-term disability plans, as well as APTA’s 401(k) and pension plans. I meet with all the brokers and seek the most cost-effective programs available for our employees.

I plan all the educational classes for the employees in the benefits area, such as workshops on 401(k) asset allocation and preparing for retirement.

In addition, I work with an outside human resources consultant in planning wage and salary administration. This includes market pricing our positions to ensure that our compensation practices are competitive, so we can hire and retain the best and brightest employees.

Through my association with the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), I stay up to date on all federal regulations.

I have designed and written (and rewritten) the employee handbook several times during my tenure; it’s now online so the employees have easy access to understand APTA’s policies and procedures.

One fun part of my job has been planning the annual holiday party; the summer employee event; and—most of all—staff appreciation activities: length of service awards and special recognition for hard work at APTA conferences.

Do you have any direct contact with APTA members? If so, please talk about recent times you’ve helped out a member.
Yes, I do. APTA members call me a lot for information regarding compensation, job descriptions, policies and procedures, and public transit benefits.

When I first came to APTA, I was the staff liaison to the Human Resources Committee, the Women in Transit Committee, and the Minority Affairs Committee. After about four years of having those separate committees, we mainstreamed them into the Human Resources Committee and then formed the Diversity Council. Over the course of those years, I met many members with whom I still stay in contact today, even though I haven’t been the staff liaison for 10 years. When I do attend APTA conferences, I see them. We get together and talk about human resources issues.

More recently, an APTA member called to ask for information regarding how we went about hiring our new president & CEO. The member asked specific questions about how we selected our search firm, where we advertised, and how we formed our search committee.

What initiatives, projects, or programs have you worked on at APTA that you have taken particular pride in completing?
I’ve overseen the implementation of several major policies in the past couple of years: the employee maternity/paternity policy; switching from vacation-sick leave to a combined paid time off system; instituting a short term disability program.

Over the years, we’ve had Lunch and Learn brown-bag luncheons for our employees, bringing in outside presenters to deal with topics such as identity theft. I invited a physical therapist to help employees with reducing stress, improving their posture while working at the computer, and seated exercise. I organized a benefits fair, which included bringing in vendors to speak with the staff about their products and services (such as insurance, credit union, and short-term car and bicycle rental); health booths; and seated massage.

I organize charity functions for our employees. For example, during the Day of Caring, they work in kitchens, pack food, stock shelves, and provide administrative support to a charity that provides meals to homebound individuals.

How did you “land” at APTA? How long have you worked here?
I answered an ad. I’ve worked here 15 years as of September.

When I interviewed here, APTA had everything that I was looking for: the right number of employees, the work I was doing. It fit well with the past work I had accomplished in human resources and I wanted to continue that work.

What professional affiliations do you have?
SHRM, American Society of Association Executives, Finance and Administration Roundtable.

Could you tell us something about yourself that might surprise us?
In my earlier life, I was courageous enough to jump out of an airplane a mile in the air, and I landed on two feet. I became very interested in scuba diving and became certified to dive at night. I spent six days in Hawaii diving off the coast of Kona, seeing green moray eels, lobsters, sharks, and a lot of other forms of sea life. I’m an identical twin.

Make sure you see Karen Harvey’s video, now that you've read this!


Public Transit Art Projects Receive Nationwide Recognition

Americans for the Arts, a nonprofit organization for advancing the arts and arts education, recently recognized art projects commissioned by the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), New York City DOT, and the Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) in Charlotte, NC, as three of the 50 best U.S. public artworks created and placed in 2011.

Artist Jason Middlebrook created “Brooklyn Seeds,” a glass and ceramic mosaic, on a wall at MTA New York City Transit’s Avenue U Station in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn. MTA Arts for Transit commissioned the work, which depicts flowers resembling the wildflowers that grow in unlikely places in urban neighborhoods, as part of the rehabilitation of several subway stations on the Brighton line.

New York City DOT’s “Curbside Haiku” safety campaign—designed by artist John Morse, who also wrote the haikus—brings together silhouette images and safety messages in haiku format on colorful, eight-inch square signs. More than 200 of the signs are being installed at high-traffic locations near cultural institutions and schools throughout the city.

CATS’ North Davidson Bus Facility is the home of North Carolina artist Jimmy O’Neal’s “Wheels on the Bus in 7 Cymatic Sonatas,” which uses a cymascope—an instrument that converts sound vibrations into visual patterns—to produce images based on the key and frequency of each sound he recorded in buses and bus facilities. As a result, the appearance of the work constantly shifts through the incorporation of daily and seasonal atmospheric changes.

Since 2000, the Public Art Network Year in Review has annually recognized outstanding public art projects through an open call submission and juror selection process.



New York MTA/Etienne Frossard and Rob Wilson

A detail of “Brooklyn Seeds,” a wall mosaic created by Jason Middlebrook in NYC Transit’s Avenue U Station in Brooklyn.

Photo by JoAnn Sieburg Baker

Artist Jimmy O’Neal designed his “Wheels on the Bus in 7 Cymatic Sonatas” to respond to changes in sound and atmosphere at CATS’ North Davidson Bus Facility.


VIA to Design Shelter as Part of NEA Creative Arts Grant Project

VIA Metropolitan Transit in San Antonio, TX, is joining the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) College of Architecture and the city’s Office of Cultural Affairs in an effort to integrate public art, public transit, and a public cultural arts facility.

The partnership came about after UTSA was selected for a $50,000 “Our Town” grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to lead a community engagement process focused on the design development of a public art transit stop near the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts. This NEA program supports joint efforts of not-for-profit organizations and local government entities to uphold the goals of creative, transformational projects that create community identity and a sense of place, with the arts at their core.

San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro said: “It is collaborative projects like this that bring about creative growth in our city. The Our Town grant will also enable the Office of Cultural Affairs to further its efforts to bring art and culture to public spaces.”

This fall, the partners will host a series of public discussions to develop design concepts for a new public art transit stop close to the Tobin Center, located in the north portion of San Antonio’s famed River Walk. The redevelopment of the Tobin Center, scheduled to open in 2014, will serve as a gateway to the Museum Reach of the River Walk extension.

“This grant offers the opportunity to design a public art-focused transit stop, and aligns with our commitment to improve our downtown transit facilities and serve important cultural destinations,” said VIA President/Chief Executive Officer Keith Parker.


APTA’s Annual Meeting: Coming Up Soon in Seattle; Featured Speakers Include South African Rehana Moosajee

The 2012 APTA Annual Meeting, Sept. 30-Oct. 3 in Seattle, is only two months away! Public transportation professionals should attend to take advantage of the many informational and networking opportunities. In these challenging times for public transit, APTA has worked to incorporate a broad range of topics from partnerships and improved productivity to nontraditional revenue sources and service during high-profile events.

APTA committees will meet during the weekend of Sept. 29-30, including the first meeting of the newly elected 2012-2013 APTA Board of Directors. Other weekend activities include the Mid-Level Managers Welcome and Orientation Breakfast Meeting; This is APTA; “Meet with Mike,” an informal session with APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy; and the Sunday evening Welcome to Seattle Reception. The reception will be held once again on the floor of the Products & Services Showcase, giving participants an opportunity to learn about the newest and most advanced technologies for public transportation.

Monday’s Events
The Opening General Session, “Public Transportation Takes Us There,” begins Monday, Oct. 1. Representatives of King County Metro Transit, host system for the Annual Meeting, and local officials will join Melaniphy; outgoing Chair Gary C. Thomas; and incoming Chair Flora M. Castillo.

The rest of the day’s activities include the Products & Services Showcase and three series of concurrent educational sessions. Topics will include the Host Forum, which examines the partnerships among Puget Sound’s public transit agencies, state and local governments, and businesses; a General Forum, “Being Game Changers”; best practices for small systems; job creation through public transit procurements; improved service to older adults and persons with disabilities; and details of the recently passed surface transportation authorization law.

Also on Monday afternoon are the 33rd Annual AdWheel Awards Ceremony, honoring the best in public transit marketing efforts, and recognition of the recipients of this year’s American Public Transportation Foundation scholarships.

Tuesday Schedule
Tuesday, Oct. 2, begins with a General Session, “APTA Business Members Present Rehana Moosajee.” Moosajee led the transformation of the transportation system in Johannesburg, South Africa, and successfully met the transportation challenges accompanying the 2010 World Cup soccer tournament in the city. This effort included the development of Africa’s first Bus Rapid Transit system, ReaVaya, in 2009.

More educational sessions will follow.

APTA will honor “the best of the best” at the Awards Luncheon. This year’s event will include presentation of awards for APTA’s Outstanding Public Transportation Manager, Business Member, and Board Member; Local Distinguished Service Award; Innovation Award; Outstanding Public Transportation System Achievement Awards; and the newest member of the Hall of Fame.

Tuesday afternoon includes more concurrent sessions; Leadership APTA Class of 2012’s project presentations and graduation; and five technical tours organized by King County Metro Transit. Annual Meeting participants can sign up to tour the agency’s RapidRide Bus Rapid Transit corridor; the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel, Transit/Link Communications & Control Center, and Atlantic/Central Operations Base; Sound Transit’s Sounder commuter rail; Link light rail, also operated by Sound Transit; and the city’s South Lake Union Streetcar and South Lake Union Development.

What’s on Wednesday
On Wednesday morning, Oct. 3, the APTA/WTS Breakfast is serving something different from its usual single speaker. “Powerful Women—Reflections on Power, Leadership, and Effecting Change” brings together a panel of women leaders from the public transit industry and the Seattle area, sharing their experiences with leadership and effecting change. The last set of concurrent sessions will follow.

The Closing General Session, “FISH! Alive in Leaders!”, will present ways to help leaders inspire, through example, a culture of worker trust, support, accountability, energy, and creativity. Participants will examine their leadership beliefs and styles, their impact on relationships, and their role in developing the culture and success they desire.

Groundbreaking Actions Keep Metro Transit Moving

BY KEVIN DESMOND, General Manager, King County Metro Transit, Seattle, WA

King County Metro Transit is delighted to invite APTA members to come see us in Seattle this September. Despite facing intense challenges, we’ve been moving forward over the past few years and have much to show you.

We have rolled out Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), helped launch a regional fare payment system, integrated Metro bus service with Sound Transit’s Link light rail, and added to our long list of green practices.

When the economic slump threatened our progress, the leadership of King County Executive Dow Constantine enabled us to keep providing innovative, quality service. The executive spearheaded initiatives to make Metro more efficient and productive and to secure funding that averted deep service cuts.

A New Direction
A landmark achievement occurred in 2010. Although Metro cut costs dramatically after the recession hit, we still faced a looming budget gap and service cuts. The turning point came when Constantine convened a citizens’ task force to reconsider Metro’s service allocation policies.

This Regional Transit Task Force broke a political logjam—and earned a major regional award—by recommending that King County jettison a longstanding policy that allocated set amounts of transit service to geographic subareas of the county. Following the task force’s advice, the county council adopted a new approach that puts service where it’s needed most, based on objective service guidelines and public input. The guidelines emphasize productivity, social equity, and meeting priority needs throughout the county.

This new approach not only enables Metro to serve more people with existing resources, it also led to the state legislature authorizing a temporary new funding tool for Metro. Acting on Constantine’s request and responding to broad public support, the county council adopted this funding measure last year.

Now Metro is putting the new service policy to work, making our bus system more productive and sustainable. We’ll kick off a sweeping service revision Sept. 29 while you’re in Seattle.

The centerpiece is the launch of our RapidRide C and D lines. APTA meeting-goers will see the red and yellow RapidRide buses make their debut in downtown Seattle. We’re also revising more than 50 bus routes around the RapidRide lines to make better use of our resources and serve more people—critically important since our ridership resumed steady growth last year.

The C and D lines are the latest of six planned BRT lines that use modified arterials. Key features are transit signal priority, real-time bus arrival signs, consolidated stops, and faster boarding enabled by bus bulbs and off-board payment for ORCA card users.

ORCA is the Puget Sound region’s fare payment system, which uses smart cards with RFID technology to support easy fare payment and seamless regional travel. Metro and six other public transit agencies launched ORCA in 2009, and use of the card has grown steadily since then. Riders use ORCA for 60 percent of Metro’s weekday boardings, and more than 1,600 employers have ORCA accounts.

Metro will take another big step to simplify fare payment on Sept. 29 when we end the Ride Free Area (RFA) in downtown Seattle.

The RFA—in place for nearly 40 years—has made Metro’s fare-collection practices confusing. Passengers now pay as they enter buses heading toward downtown Seattle, but as they exit on trips leaving the RFA. When the RFA ends, all passengers will pay when they board.

Watch Us Go Green
As you travel around Seattle, watch for Metro’s hybrid diesel-electric buses and electric trolleys—flagships of the agency’s commitment to environmentally sound operations.

Metro’s sustainability agenda includes LEED buildings, a green cleaning program, and extensive recycling. We are strengthening our green programs by starting an Environmental Sustainability Management System.

Next year, using federal Transportation Investments for Greenhouse Gas and Energy Reduction grant funding, we’ll test a prototype all-electric bus. This is a consortium project—an example of our partnership approach that has led to many innovations.

More to See
Also, don’t miss the 1.3-mile Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel. In 2009, Metro and Sound Transit began jointly operating buses and light rail in the tunnel—the only such place you’ll see this. Enter the tunnel at any of its five stations to see how it works and make a quick trip to popular destinations like the Westlake shopping area or the Chinatown-International District.

Metro offers much more throughout King County, including some 220 bus routes, dial-a-ride, paratransit service, 130 park-and-ride lots, one of the nation’s largest commuter van programs, and award-wining commute trip reduction programs. Come to Seattle for the APTA Annual Meeting and explore it all!

Topics of Concurrent Educational Sessions

Here’s a brief overview of the concurrent sessions scheduled during the 2012 APTA Annual Meeting in Seattle.

Host Forum: Partnership Strategy Moves Puget Sound Region Toward its Vision. Public transit agencies in the greater Seattle area will explain how, by teaming up with many partners—including Washington State, cities, and businesses—they have achieved success in improving mobility throughout the Puget Sound region.

General Forum: Being Game Changers. To survive and succeed, public transportation agencies must address major drivers for change such as rapid shifts in funding, technology, and demographics.

The Federal Partnership for Sustainable Communities. This year marks the third anniversary of the Federal Partnership for Sustainable Communities, a groundbreaking agreement among DOT, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Environmental Protection Agency. This session will show how the partnership has led to real results at the regional level.

Creative Ridership Initiatives. The resurging economy and high gas prices played a role in public transit ridership growth, but so did innovative ridership campaigns.

Small Operations: Best Practices = Big Results. As with mid-size and large public transit systems, small operators must cope with new business problems and opportunities on a regular basis.

Opening the Door to Public-Private Partnerships (PPP). This session will focus on methods to use PPPs to help project sponsors manage risk, expedite project delivery, and help in the management of both capital construction and service operation.

Executive Suite: The Journey. Public transit leaders know the benefits, power, and impact of the industry on the economy, communities, job creation, and the future. This interactive executive roundtable session focuses on the journey: the stories of public and private sector executive leaders who recently joined the executive suite.

Bench Press Your Benchmarking: Best Practices in Performance Measure Development, Challenges, and Lessons Learned. Join representatives of the Imperial College of London, the International Bus Benchmarking Group, and the newly formed American Bus Benchmarking Group to learn about using measurement of key performance indicators and benchmarking with peers to improve performance and help decision makers think differently about their organization.

Thinking Globally = Success Locally. APTA members share their international experiences: the importance of staying connected worldwide and building relationships.

Transit Asset Management Recommended Practices. Transit agencies vary in the introduction of a comprehensive asset management strategy to inform and guide agency decisions and resource allocation. Learn recommended practices from agencies that have had success in integrating those practices with a new look at fixed assets.

Value for Money. Public transportation agencies are under extraordinary financial pressure, trying to maintain service to ridership while offsetting the impacts of reduced funding. Find out how agencies around the country and the world are identifying new operating savings and maximizing their return on investment.

How Many U.S. Jobs Will Your Transit Procurement Create? Much has been said about the importance of creating U.S. jobs. This session will engage the audience in a discussion about Buy America requirements, the realities of the market, and results of the new efforts to encourage job creation.

AdWheel Awards Ceremony. Join in the excitement as APTA honors the first-place winners and announces the grand award winners in the 33rd Annual AdWheel Awards competition. Each year, the AdWheel Awards honor the best in public transportation marketing and communications.

Advances in Serving Older Adults & People with Disabilities by Supporting Community Transportation Programs. Representatives of Portland’s Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon and Seattle’s King County Metro Transit report on their programs that expand transportation options for paratransit customers and older adults.

Planning Partnerships for Livable Communities. Communities, regions, and states are looking to improve their “sustainability” and “livability” through coordinated transportation, land use, housing, and environmental programs. Public transportation providers must be an integral part of this process.

MAP 21: Getting to Know the New Federal Authorizing Law! U.S. Senate and House staff members who developed the new public transportation and highway authorizing law, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP 21), will report on details of the law and answer questions.

Winning Approaches: Resources at Your Disposal Through APTA. APTA membership provides access to valuable industry resources. Come hear firsthand accounts of how public transit professionals are using these tools to enhance the quality and effectiveness of their operations.

American Public Transportation Foundation Scholarship Awards Program: “Harness the Change.” In today’s ever-changing economy, the task of growing a talented and dedicated workforce is more challenging than ever in the public transit industry. The American Public Transportation Foundation is working to meet that challenge in part by bringing together the industry’s emerging leaders, its 2012 scholarship recipients.

Host Session: Customer Information Technology Roundtable.

Going for Gold: What Leadership in Sustainability Means to the Transit Industry. At a time of increasing demands and scarce resources, some public transit agencies have made strides by organizing around sustainability as a strategic goal and signing the APTA Sustainability Commitment.

Industry Engagement. Learn how public transit agencies and organizations can benefit from leveraging innovative resources, including relationships with non-traditional partners, to support and enhance the transit services in communities.

APTA/COMTO DBE Assembly. Once again, APTA and the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials collaborate to support Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBE) and develop implementable strategies to increase DBE involvement in the public transportation industry.

Best Practices in On-Track Safety Programs. Conducting work on the right-of-way is among the highest-risk maintenance activities for all rail modes. This panel will investigate pre-work (i.e., training, hazard identification), on-site, and follow-up (i.e., safety audits, reporting of near misses) strategies and practices, all aimed at getting employees home safely.

Bringing High-Speed Rail to the U.S.

Olympic Games, World Cups, and Mega Events. What goes on behind a host city’s transport operations to move significant crowds to major, once-in-a-lifetime events? Learn from agencies that have recently been there, or are getting ready to host such an event.

Beyond APTA—Why APTA’s Partnerships and Partners Matter. APTA and its APTA membership are active partners with numerous other national and international associations, ensuring thought leadership on behalf of the public transit industry.

Beyond APTA—Transit in Your Future. The current APTA Research & Technology Strategic Plan elaborates on the coming challenges facing the industry and sets a course for committee action.

Unlock the Treasures of APTA’s Website. Public transit professionals will find a wealth of information at their fingertips by visiting the APTA website.

Alternative Funding and Finance Strategies/Solutions for Challenging Times. As demand grows for more and higher-quality U.S. public transportation, regions are developing grand plans to build public transit systems for the future. In these tight fiscal times, many regions are stepping to the plate with bold new ways of thinking.

Current Issues in Public Transit Safety: An Industry Dialogue with NTSB Board Member Earl F. Weener. This interactive session will bring together leaders of the National Transportation Safety Board and the public transit industry to share perspectives on current safety challenges and how to create safer work environments and services.

Leadership APTA—Celebrating Tomorrow's Leaders. This session features the Leadership APTA Class of 2012 project presentations and the class’ graduation ceremonies, as well as the introduction of members of the incoming Class of 2013.

Forging Transit/Bicycle Partnerships. Proponents of both public transportation and bicycle transportation share a desire to create livable and sustainable communities. Improving relationships among public transit, municipalities, bicycle transportation professionals, and advocacy groups can help achieve the mutual goals of improving communities and moving trips for single-occupant vehicles to more efficient and clean modes of transportation.

Fare Policy for Regional Integration. Establishing an agency-appropriate fare policy is critical to sustaining the system's operational effectiveness. In today’s environment, many local agencies are integrating with metropolitan public transit systems.

Infrastructure Projects 2012. Between maintaining state of good repair and creating new services, exciting capital projects are taking place across the country and the globe. Top transit professionals will discuss how they have built the case for investment in infrastructure in their communities, facing challenges, and what’s next.

Non-Farebox Revenue. Every public transit agency must find new ways to bring in revenue beyond the farebox. Discover winning strategies and opportunities for growing non-fare revenues.

2012 Annual Meeting Program at a Glance

APTA’s 2012 Annual Meeting will be held Sept. 30-Oct. 3 at the Washington State Convention & Trade Center in Seattle, WA. This schedule is preliminary and up to date as of July 19, 2012.

Saturday, Sept. 29
8:30 a.m. – 6 p.m.: Committee Meetings
Noon – 4 p.m.: APTA Board of Directors Meeting
Sunday, Sept. 30
7 a.m. - 5:15 p.m.: Committee Meetings
1 – 2:30 p.m.: This Is APTA 
3 – 4 p.m.: Meet with Mike: A Conversation with the CEO
6 – 8 p.m.: Welcoming Reception/Products & Services Showcase
Monday, Oct. 1
8 – 9:30 a.m.: Opening General Session-Public Transportation Takes Us There
9:45 – 11:15 a.m.: Concurrent Sessions
  Host Forum: Partnership Strategy Moves Puget Sound Region Toward Its Vision
  General Forum: Being Game Changers
  The Federal Partnership for Sustainable Communities
  Creative Ridership Initiatives
  Small Operations: Best Practices = Big Results
  Opening the Door to Public-Private Partnerships
11:30 a.m. – 2 p.m.: Products & Services Showcase (includes lunch)
2:15 – 3:45 p.m.: Concurrent Sessions
  Executive Suite: The Journey
  Bench Press Your Benchmarking: Best Practices in Performance Measure Development, Challenges, and Lessons Learned
  Thinking Globally = Success Locally
  Transit Asset Management Recommended Practices
  Value for Money
  How Many U.S. Jobs Will Your Transit Procurement Create? (Buy America)
  AdWheel Awards Ceremony
 4 – 5:30 p.m.: Concurrent Sessions
  Advances in Serving Older Adults & People with Disabilities by Supporting Community Transportation Programs
  Planning Partnerships for Livable Communities
  MAP 21: Getting to Know the New Authorizing Law!
  Winning Approaches: Resources at Your Disposal Through APTA
  APTF Scholarship Awards Program: Harness the Change
7 – 9 p.m.: APTF Gala Reception

Tuesday, Oct. 2
8:30 – 10 a.m.: General Session: APTA Business Members Present Rehana Moosajee
10:15 – 11:45 a.m.: Concurrent Sessions
  Host Session: Customer Information Technology Round Table
  Going for Gold: What Leadership in Sustainability Means to the Transit Industry
  Industry Engagement
  APTA/COMTO DBE Assembly: Best Practices in On-Track Safety Programs
Noon – 1:30 p.m.: Awards Luncheon
1:45 – 3:15 p.m.: Concurrent Sessions
  Bringing High-Speed Rail to the U.S.
  Olympic Games. World Cups, and Mega Events: Transporting the Masses
  Beyond APTA: Why APTA’s Partnerships and Partners Matter
  Beyond APTA: Transit in Your Future—APTA's R&T Strategic Plan
  Unlock the Treasures of APTA's Website
2 - 5 p.m.: Technical Tours
3:30 – 5 p.m.: Concurrent Sessions
  Alternative Funding & Finance Strategies/Solutions for Challenging Times
  Current Issues in Public Transit Safety: An Industry Dialogue with NTSB Board Member Earl F. Weener
  Leadership APTA -- Celebrating Tomorrow's Leaders
5:15 – 6:15 p.m.: Leadership APTA Reception 

Wednesday, Oct. 3
7:30 – 9 a.m.: APTA/WTS Speaker Breakfast: Powerful Women—Reflections on Power, Leadership, and Effecting Change
9:15 – 10:45 a.m.: Concurrent Sessions
  Forging Transit/Bicycle Partnerships
  Fare Policy for Regional Integration
  Infrastructure Projects 2012
  Non-Farebox Revenue
11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.: Closing General Session: FISH! Alive in Leaders!
1 – 5 p.m.: New Starts/Small Starts Workshop

APTF to Honor 2012 Scholarship Recipients

The American Public Transportation Foundation (APTF), the charitable affiliate of APTA, will recognize the recipients of its scholarship awards for 2012 Oct. 1 during the APTA Annual Meeting in Seattle.

The late afternoon session, on the theme “Harness the Change,” will include the presentation of scholarships and comments from some of the recipients about their journey into the public transit industry and their cutting-edge research and technologies. They will also offer suggestions on how to recruit and orient young professionals into the industry.

That evening, the APTF Board of Directors will host Gala 2012, a night of entertainment, food, music, and fun. Tickets are required to attend this event.

The cost is $100 per person. Proceeds benefit the APTF scholarship fund. Contributions are fully tax-deductible to the extent allowable by law. Tickets are available online or onsite at the APTA registration desk in the Sheraton Seattle Hotel.

APTF is a 501c (3) non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the education and professional development of young professionals pursuing careers in public transportation.  More information is available from Yvette Conley.


AdWheel Celebrates 33rd Year of Awards

APTA will honor the best and most imaginative in public transportation marketing and promotional campaigns during the 2012 APTA Annual Meeting at the 33rd annual AdWheel ceremony on Monday afternoon, Oct. 1.

APTA has received more than 500 entries in this year’s competition, which is currently in the judging phase. First-place award recipients should be notified by mid-August. The AdWheel Grand Awards, selected from among the first-place honorees, will be made public at the event.

APTA member public transportation systems and business members compete in five categories—print, electronic, campaign, special event, and social media—to determine outstanding achievement in public transit marketing and communications. Public transit agencies are judged in categories based on the number of rides they provide each year.

This year’s competition includes the niche category Off-Peak Marketing & Communications, which recognizes entries that showcase innovative marketing and communication efforts to attract riders.

All AdWheel entries will be available for viewing at an interactive exhibit during the Annual Meeting.

More information is available from Laticia King.

Travel Discounts

American Airlines
Promotion Code: A9292BH
Valid for Travel: Sept. 27-Oct. 6, 2012
Eligible Airports: Seattle-Tacoma (SEA)

APTA has partnered with American Airlines to provide meeting attendees a 7 percent discount off any published airfare on the airline's website for travel to Seattle.
To make a reservation:
* Go to the website to book your flight. Place the Promotion Code in the promotion code box and your discount will be calculated automatically.
* You may also call 1-800-433-1790 to book your flights; refer to the Promotion Code above when you call. There is a reservation service charge for all tickets issued by phone.
Please note: This discount is valid off any applicable published fare listed for American Airlines, American Eagle, and American Connection. International originating guests will need to contact their local reservation number and refer to the Promotion Code. Use APTA’s preferred partner, American Airlines, whenever possible because of the benefits provided to the traveler and to the association for extended partner value.

Delta Airlines
Ticket Designator: NM7GX
Valid for Travel: Sept. 27-Oct. 6, 2012
Eligible Airports: Seattle-Tacoma (SEA)

APTA has partnered with Delta to provide meeting attendees a discount of up to 10 percent off roundtrip fares for travel to Seattle.
To make a reservation:
* Go to Delta's website to book your flight. Enter the Ticket Designator.
* Or call Delta Meeting Network reservations at 1-800-328-1111. A direct ticketing charge will apply for booking by phone.
Please note: Discounts apply to U.S./Canada originating passengers and roundtrip travel only. The offer is not valid with other discounts, certificates, coupons, or promotional offers.


Szabo: U.S. Economy Depends on a 21st-Century Public Transportation Network

BY JULIA M. KLEIN, Special to Passenger Transport

“America’s economy is only going to grow as fast or as far as our transportation network will carry it,” FRA Administrator Joseph C. Szabo told the recent UIC 8th World Congress on High-Speed Rail in Philadelphia.

Keynoting a gala dinner in the Pennsylvania Convention Center’s Grand Hall, fashioned from the train shed of the city’s 1893 Reading Terminal, Szabo said he believes “American citizens understand much better than Congress what our country’s transportation system needs to look like in 10, 20, or even 50 years from now. They get it: that a 21st-century economy won’t run on a last-century transportation network.”

To a heavily international audience—representing such countries as Japan, France, and Germany that already rely on high-speed rail—Szabo conceded that “three years ago, when President Obama envisioned an America transformed by high-speed and higher-performing intercity passenger rail, there were skeptics. Critics called it too expensive, too ambitious, and said that Americans are way too in love with their cars.”

But, in contrast with that skepticism, he cited what he sees as encouraging U.S. trends, such as increasing public transportation ridership, especially among ages 16 to 34, and the decision earlier this month by California legislators to fund high-speed rail.

Szabo acknowledged that building a top-notch rail system would be a long-haul project. “We’re not naïve,” he said. “We certainly understand that the effort we’ve set off on is going to be a multigenerational effort. We know we have a long way to go.”

But, he continued, just as President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s support for the Interstate Highway System in the 1950s “transformed our nation,” high-speed and higher-performing intercity passenger rail will serve as a “foundation that allows our economy to flourish.”

For example, in California, with its massive highway congestion, “it’s clear that high-speed rail is not a luxury: it’s a necessity,” Szabo said, adding: “The same goes for right here in America’s Northeast Corridor.”

He said FRA is “engaging states and stakeholders in a planning process to determine the most efficient way…to bring true high-speed rail to the East Coast.” He noted Amtrak’s recently announced vision of 37-minute rail service between Philadelphia and New York, about half the current travel time. Amtrak predicts achieving that goal by 2040.

Szabo listed other projects underway around the country, including the Midwest Regional Rail Initiative, a nine-state cooperative to improve service and travel times among Chicago, Detroit, St. Louis, and other Midwestern cities; a proposed bullet train between Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth; and the Southeast High Speed Rail Project, which he said would cut in half the travel time between Raleigh, NC, and Washington, DC.

Earlier at the event, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter said good transportation policy requires making “investments in things seen and often unseen by the public.” Nutter, the new president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, said he would champion public transportation, which he believes should be exempt from partisan wrangling.

“There is no Democrat or Republican way to fix a railroad; there is no Democrat or Republican way to build new rail cars and systems,” he said. “It’s about jobs, it’s about economic vitality, it’s about shrinking our country so that we can move people and goods and services as quickly and efficiently and [in] as environmentally friendly [a way] as possible.”

Rina Cutler, Philadelphia’s deputy mayor for transportation and public utilities, told the conferees that “your timing could not be better” since “America has a choice to make about transportation.” She said: “Our future can hold crumbling infrastructure that impairs mobility [and] cripples commerce, or America’s transportation future can look like the best parts of our past.”

Noting that high-speed rail is “an expensive undertaking,” Cutler said, “There are those who say that America cannot afford great infrastructure. I say America cannot afford to not have great infrastructure.”

“Excuse the pun,” she added, “but we all need to get on board.” 

Introducing the speakers were UIC Director-General Jean-Pierre Loubinoux, APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy, and Joseph M. Casey, general manager of Philadelphia’s Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority. Parsons Brinckerhoff sponsored the dinner.

Scenes from High-Speed Rail 2012

As the 8th World Congress on High-Speed Rail came to a close on Friday, July 13, in Philadelphia, UIC Director-General Jean-Pierre Loubinoux gave emotional remarks. His words about the extraordinary friendships made, the intensive discussions held, and the challenges shared over the four-day congress were echoed time and again as the attendees returned home.


Photo by Todd Parola

Student competition winners from the United States, China, Germany, Portugal, and Finland were recognized for their essays and drawings on high-speed rail. They participated in every session in Philadelphia and attended Washington Day in the nation’s capital. Second from left is APTA Program Manager Cheryl Pyatt.


Photo by Todd Parola

A packed rail station was the venue for the closing night UIC dinner.


Photo by Todd Parola

Announcing that “all good things must come to an end,” UIC Director-General Jean-Pierre Loubinoux, far right, closed the UIC 8th World Congress on High-Speed Rail with the announcement that the next World Congress would be held in Japan in 2014. He noted the choice of Japan as only fitting since high-speed rail began there 50 years ago. From left are APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy; UIC Director of High-Speed Rail Ignacio Barron de Angoiti; Naoto Yanase, an employee with East Japan Railway Company; and Satoshi Seino, chairman, East Japan Railway Company.


Photo by Todd Parola

Assistant Secretary for Transportation Policy Polly Trottenberg told attendees at the closing session that the United States is “still struggling” to determine how to fund all its transportation needs.  Referring to MAP-21, she said that the more than two years of stable funding for highways and public transit should be considered a success, although “more work will be needed on rail.”


Photo by Kathy Golden

A roundtable session moderated by Michael Melaniphy, president & CEO, APTA, on high-speed rail’s role in the future transport market included experts Karen Hedlund, deputy administrator, Federal Railroad Administration; Barbara Dalibard, CEO, SNCF Voyages; Adrian Corry, senior consultant public transportation, BMW Design Works; Marilyn Jordan Taylor, dean, School of Design, University of Pennsylvania; Neil Peterson, executive advisor, CH2M Hill; Emanuele Carando, marketing vice president, Trenitalia/FS Italian National Railways; Stephen Van Beek, executive director, policy and strategy, Leigh Fisher Management Consultants; Victorino Perez Fernandez, RENFE Operadora; and Li Yuan, student, Tsinghua University, Beijing.






High-Speed Rail: Expanding the Specific Toolbox

BY CHRISTOPHER TAYLOR, P.E., Deputy Director, High-Speed Rail Services, North America, AECOM, Piscataway, NJ

Famed psychologist Abraham Maslow said: “If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.”

Many high-speed rail (HSR) opponents believe that HSR supporters think this way, harboring the notion that HSR should link every possible U.S. destination without regard to size, distance, or any other critical factors.

Nothing is further from the truth. HSR advocates believe HSR is one superb answer to one particular circumstance.

HSR is the right tool for the job of transporting large numbers of people from one densely populated major urban area to another—but only when those areas are the right distance apart and the travel demand market has the right characteristics. And it does everyone a disservice to misrepresent that view.

“Give us the tools and we’ll finish the job,” bellowed Winston Churchill in a wartime broadcast. I always took those words to heart. You see, I worked my way through college as a contractor. I learned that having the right tool for the right job means everything. Being somewhat particular, I had all of my tools organized into different toolboxes. And I had a lot of different toolboxes!

Though each toolbox cost a small king’s ransom, I could not have succeeded without having the appropriate tools for each job. Imagine trying to trim down a door with a chisel instead of a plane. Transportation is no different. 

Different transportation modes have different applications. A bus serves a very distinct function from a light rail vehicle or a commuter rail car; they are not interchangeable. The public must understand that we get this.

We also know HSR is no panacea. It is an extremely important tool in the transportation toolbox, a tool that has been absent in the American landscape—to our country’s detriment. But it’s time to change that. It is time to add HSR to America’s toolbox, not because we need that tool represented, but because it’s an essential tool to get a specific transportation job done. 

“High-speed rail is the most effective way to increase intercity capacity,” states a report from the University of Pennsylvania School of Design and Department of City and Regional Planning (“High-Speed Rail in the Northeast Megaregion: From Vision to Reality,” Spring 2011). “While not suited for all trip types, it is the most competitive mode for those trips ranging between 100 and 500 miles in length. For those trips shorter than 100 miles, the automobile is most competitive, and for those trips longer than 500 miles, air is the most competitive.”

The report continues: “Currently, we rely too heavily on the automobile and airplane to fulfill a travel demand for which they are not best suited—trips between 100 and 500 miles—putting unnecessary strain on an already overextended system. By implementing a new mode of travel, HSR holds the promise to not only fulfill a transportation need that is not being satisfactorily met, but also to alleviate the strain on the other major modes in the transportation system, thus creating a more efficient and balanced overall network. High-speed rail represents an opportunity not only to introduce a new mode into the transportation system that would assume a role not previously filled, but also an opportunity to bring balance and optimization to other existing modes, including aviation.”

Though only one tool, HSR can accomplish multiple tasks. Providing business, intercity, and even vacation travel among major city centers, HSR also serves to relieve congestion on other transportation modes.

One need look no further than the U.S. Northeast Corridor to see its value in that regard. According to the Penn report: “Intercity travel within the Northeast Megaregion by road, rail and air networks faces substantial congestion that results in longer travel times and reduced reliability. . . . The Northeast Megaregion features the four most delay-prone airports in the nation—Newark, LaGuardia, JFK, and Philadelphia—as well as the nation’s most congested stretch of highway on Interstate 95. Of the top 10 most congested metropolitan areas in the United States, New York, Washington, Boston, and Philadelphia rank 2nd, 4th, 8th, and 9th, respectively. . . . Across these networks, the rail system has the greatest potential to add the most capacity in the most cost-effective manner.”

HSR is not only the best tool for the job; it is the only tool that can do these particular jobs effectively and efficiently.

Not convinced? OK, let’s look at aviation. At present, aviation facilities are at or over capacity in many routes and corridors. As a result, there are considerable delays. Consider the “2009 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure” published by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). Aviation and airports received a D grade, with the report citing “volume” as the cause for nearly a quarter of the delays experienced by travelers. So, why not just add capacity? 

At the moment we are not building many brand-new airports, or for that matter even adding runways. Aside from rigorous environmental regulations that can encumber any endeavor as large as an airport, in many cases there simply isn’t enough land available near major city centers, especially in the Northeast.

As the Penn report says: “To expand aviation capacity, large amounts of available land would be needed to add new runways or build new airports. In more than 50 years, only one new Greenfield airport has been built in the United States, and this, Denver International, required a land area twice the size of Manhattan.”

What about highways and roads? The ASCE report card gave roads a grade of D minus and noted: “Next to safety, congestion has become the most critical challenge facing our highway system. Congestion continues to worsen to the point at which Americans spend 4.2 billion hours a year stuck in traffic at a cost of $78.2 billion a year in wasted time and fuel costs—$710 per motorist.”

The situation in the Northeast is no different: “Expanding capacity on Northeast highways would also require large amounts of land and incur substantial costs. A recent report by the I-95 Corridor Coalition estimated that annual expenditures of approximately $25 billion would be required to meet projected capacity needs through 2035. Additionally, because many highways in the Northeast run through dense urban areas, expansion would require significant land acquisitions that would be practically and politically difficult.” 

The advocates of HSR labor under no delusions. Implementing a robust HSR system—the kind of comprehensive system that will achieve the goals of congestion relief and effective transportation—will not be easy, cheap, or without challenges. But HSR is simply the right tool for the job of providing efficient mass transportation to connect major urban centers and regional transportation hubs spaced between 100 and 500 miles apart—while relieving congestion on existing transportation modes. When it comes to fulfilling that kind of need, there aren’t any other tools available that can do the job as well. 

“If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.” Sadly, HSR opponents presume that HSR advocates think this way, proposing their favorite tool as the only available solution. This is not true. High-speed rail is simply the best tool available—perhaps the only tool—to solve a specific piece of the transportation and congestion crisis in this country. And it does everyone a disservice to misrepresent that view.


Photo by Kevin Allen

An Amtrak Acela train on the platform at Washington’s Union Station. Amtrak is continuing to move forward with high-speed rail in the Northeast Corridor.



SEPTA Launches Cutting-Edge Regenerative Braking Initiative: Wayside Energy Storage

BY ANDREW BUSCH, Press Officer, Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, Philadelphia, PA

Since the early 1900s, the Letterly Substation in Philadelphia’s Kensington neighborhood has been providing the power needed to run one of the city’s busiest train lines.

Now this facility is on the cutting-edge of 21st-century technology that is making public transit more sustainable and efficient, thanks to an innovative program to reduce power consumption and costs by harnessing the energy generated by trains.

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) and Viridity Energy, a Philadelphia-based smart-grid firm, have launched a pilot project to bring regenerative braking energy—similar to that used by hybrid vehicles—to subway/elevated trains on the Market-Frankford Line. This line is SEPTA’s busiest route, serving nearly 190,000 riders daily.

In a first-of-its-kind “wayside energy storage” project, SEPTA and Viridity have devised a way to capture, store, and reuse braking “El” trains’ energy—the energy released when trains apply the brakes, usually dissipated as heat—building on the idea of an on-board battery. Instead of a single battery as in a car or bus, however, SEPTA’s system comprises several large batteries (produced by Saft Batteries Inc.) and a controller (produced by ABB Envitech Inc.) located offsite—or wayside—at SEPTA’s Letterly Substation.

Together with Viridity, SEPTA, a gold-level signatory to APTA’s Sustainability Commitment, will connect to the frequency regulation market—used to keep the electricity grid in a state of equilibrium—and other demand-response programs to sell the excess electricity captured by the wayside energy storage device on the electric market. Later, SEPTA can use the stored energy to meet a variety of energy needs on the portion of the Market-Frankford Line served by that substation, including powering additional trains.

This process will help the agency conserve energy and cut down on electric costs. It also creates an opportunity to generate new revenue, as the captured energy can be sold on the power market.

SEPTA has more than 30 substations, many of which could eventually take advantage of this technology.

Other public transit agencies will be able to share results from this pilot to assist their efforts to similarly reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. SEPTA and others hope that soon economies of scale will allow the expansion of this promising partnership to generate economic gains without external support.

“Through this pilot project, SEPTA will become even more energy efficient, which will help control operating costs—benefiting both customers and taxpayers,” said SEPTA General Manager Joseph Casey. “We’ve made our system cleaner, greener, and more efficient in recent years through such efforts as replacing traditional diesel buses with diesel-electric hybrids and installing energy-efficient lighting at stations, facilities, and offices. These measures are helping us control costs in tough economic conditions and making us a better neighbor in the communities we serve.”

SEPTA anticipates that the energy optimization program could provide approximately 10 percent of the energy needed at Letterly Substation, which could reduce power bills by up to $190,000 a year. In addition, the agency could generate up to $250,000 in new revenues by selling captured power.

The pilot project, funded by a $900,000 grant awarded to Viridity by the Pennsylvania Energy Development Authority, is just the beginning of SEPTA’s wayside energy storage initiative.

SEPTA is exploring additional grant and funding opportunities that could allow for similar energy optimization projects at other power substations. The transit authority recently received a $1.44 million FTA grant to install another device at a substation in Northeast Philadelphia. That grant will also be used to test alternative battery technology and determine the best fit for SEPTA’s propulsion system.

These projects build on efforts undertaken as part of SEPTA’s Sustainability Program, a major goal of which is making the public transit agency greener and more efficient, and providing for improvements to an aging system that are vital to keeping it moving for current and future customers.

Kyle Bell, APTA program manager, environment and infrastructure, contributed to this story.

Focus on Sustainability
SEPTA’s role as an industry leader on these types of energy-saving initiatives will be in the national spotlight Aug. 5-8, when the agency hosts the 2012 APTA Sustainability and Public Transportation Workshop in Philadelphia.

The workshop will explore how emerging partnerships are paving the way to implement cutting-edge sustainable practices. Hear from speakers with a wealth of knowledge in these areas, including APTA Sustainability Commitment signatories. Learn how APTA members are improving efficiency, saving money, mitigating environmental impacts, and promoting strategies that encourage public transit use.
Register for the workshop by clicking here.

This chart describes the regenerative braking/wayside storage process.

The battery at SEPTA’s Letterly Substation.

Intercity Transit Brings New Life to Old Landfill

BY MEG KESTER, Marketing and Communications Manager, Intercity Transit, Olympia, WA

“Environmental sustainability,” “beneficial economic impact,” and “interagency cooperation” were among the phrases used earlier this year at a transit groundbreaking ceremony located at an old landfill near Olympia, WA.

What do transit and landfills have in common? More than one might think.

Intercity Transit is completing a park-and-ride facility atop an eight-acre portion of a former landfill in Thurston County, WA. The project gives a second life to unproductive public land and provides a much needed park-and-ride facility adjacent to Interstate 5, one of the most congested travel corridors in the state.

Pursuing the agency’s vision to be an innovative leader in providing mobility, sustainability, and community prosperity, Intercity Transit’s leadership embraced the idea in 2008 and commissioned a feasibility study. The agency used the study’s findings to successfully secure significant state regional mobility funds for the project; preliminary work began in 2009.

"The landfill is perfectly located for a park-and-ride facility and, by using it in this way, valuable land is preserved for residential and commercial development,” said Intercity Transit General Manager Mike Harbour.

But taking on redevelopment of a closed landfill comes at a price: greater project cost and complexity and the need for specialized design, engineering, and construction.

Phase 1 of the project required modification of the site’s gas collection system with 148,000 tons of fill dirt to compress the subsurface refuse. Maximum compaction levels were reached over the next year. The next phase involved installation of a new landfill liner and structural support layers, plus permanent modifications to the gas collection system.

The project is currently beginning its final stage with grading, paving, lighting, and landscaping.

KPFF Consulting Engineers is coordinating site development, planning, and construction management. Tucci and Sons did the Phase 1 “preload” and Scarsella Brothers is completing the current construction phase. All firms involved in this project are local, adding additional economic benefit to the community.

Opening This Fall
When it opens this fall, the Hawks Prairie Park-and-Ride will have 334 parking stalls, a public transit island, five electric vehicle charging stations, and round-the-clock security video surveillance. It will support transit, carpool, and vanpool activity as the largest park-and-ride lot in Thurston County.

Interagency cooperation has been key to moving this innovative project from vision to reality. It involves two local jurisdictions—Thurston County and the city of Lacey—with additional oversight by two state agencies, the Washington State Departments of Transportation and Ecology. The neighboring Meridian Campus Commercial Owners Association also supports the project.

The $8.2 million project was largely funded with a $6.66 million Washington State DOT Regional Mobility Grant. Intercity Transit is investing $600,000 plus the value of the property as the local match. Project partner Thurston County leases the land to Intercity Transit for just $1 per year.

In an opinion proffered by The Olympian, the region’s daily newspaper, the project is “taking a nonproductive piece of county property and turning it into a great community asset.”

Adding public value and interest to the project is a new dog park—informally called the “Park and Bark”—adjacent to the park-and-ride facility. Citizens appear to be embracing this new development: a unique, multi-use open space in a region with growing residential, commercial, and commuter populations.


Intercity Transit prepared a former landfill for conversion into a park-and-ride lot by trucking in 148,000 tons of fill to compress the below-ground refuse at the site before beginning construction. The process took more than six weeks.



APTA Names First Winner of ‘Travel Like a Local’

Congratulations to Susan Brooks, the June winner of APTA’s Travel Like a Local contest. The contest, held via social media, aims to show the many benefits of public transportation while allowing participants to share their experiences.

Whether you are looking for culture, history, sports, entertainment, or just enjoying the hustle and bustle of a city, public transportation offers a safe, reliable, and affordable alternative to driving

The contest will run through Labor Day. Prizes include monthly drawings for $100 gift cards and two grand prize travel vouchers awarded at the conclusion of the contest.

To participate in the “Travel Like a Local” contest, click here.

Also, APTA encourages participants to use #travellikealocal to share tips, insights, and photos.


Transit futures: South Korea offers ‘out-of-the-box’ ideas


SEOUL, South Korea—Our friends in this Asian nation have developed a sheaf of ingenious transportation strategies.

My personal favorite: elevated bike freeways. The idea is to foster cycling in busy world cities by constructing two-directional bike tracks, enclosed in glass tubes mounted above commuter routes. Commuters could pedal in or out of town, no red lights or threatening trucks, in temperature-controlled comfort. Likely result: fewer cars on the roads, reduced carbon emissions, and a healthier population.

Another idea: automated container transport. Why should trucks laden with massive containers clog highways, block drivers’ views, and exacerbate traffic perils? Why not substitute a totally separated, high-efficiency, nonstop conveyor belt? Here in South Korea it could run roughly parallel to the ever-more-crowded 260-mile superhighway stretch between Busan, the country’s busy seaport, and Seoul, its capital and top city. Parallel opportunities exist worldwide.

Next idea: Spread out the fearsome roadway demand that often clogs motorways around major holidays. How? By advance reservations, much like an airplane booking. Motorists would go online to book their own time slot, entering the tollgates during their chosen hour. The reservation system would automatically restrict the available slots, by hour, to a reasonable traffic flow. Variable hour pricing could even spread out demands and give every driver a chance to avoid tie-ups.

These are just some of the liberating, fresh ideas that have emerged from South Korea’s Transport Institute (KOTI), a 27-year-old government-funded entity that keeps the statistics on all varieties of transportation in the country but is also allowed to think freely—and report to the public—about potential future modes and formulas.

Korea’s early and bold initiatives, KOTI officials recently told a delegation of Asian rim journalists organized by the East-West Center in Honolulu, have been essential ingredients of the dramatic transformation of South Korea. From one of Asia’s poorest countries at its birth in 1948, it’s been able to star in recent years as an “Asian tiger,” one of the world’s wealthiest nations.

A top example of national foresight: the early decision to construct the Seoul-Busan expressway, linking the primarily industrial, coastal, and Seoul/metro portions of the new nation. It was an act of faith: Standard cost-benefit analysis wouldn’t have justified the roadway. In 1970, the first year of full operation, the traffic flow was 150,000 vehicles; today it’s over 18 million.

Other key decisions followed over the years—to open the Busan port, now one of the world’s largest; to inaugurate a country-spanning high-speed rail line; to invest heavily in the Incheon airport (which now receives “world’s best” ratings). Roadway HOV lanes were introduced early, likewise a bus rapid transit system (now 84 miles long, in 13 corridors).

Moral: South Korea has consistently been a step ahead of the game with timely investments that pay off in national productivity—quite the opposite of America’s foot-dragging on new infrastructure for 40-plus years now.

And today is no time to rest on one’s national oars, the KOTI planners insist. South Korea’s official goal, declared in 2008, is a low-carbon, green-growth future, built on response to global climate change.

The planners note that dominant forms of transportation (using the U.S. model) have had roughly 50-year runs. Examples: canals in the 1830s, railways in 1890s, roads and airplanes in the 20th century. What’s next for urban transportation worldwide? The theme, they speculate, might be electric cars, high-efficiency energy systems, or a mixing of those technologies with high density and land regeneration.

But whatever systems evolve, they believe information technology will be at its center. Which explains their blue-sky speculation, inventive ideas of new modes.

One idea they’re exploring is “ECO-driving”—a set of technical adjustments in car manufacturing, combined with driver education, to reduce the fuel-guzzling quick start and acceleration that account for about 60 percent of fuel use.

Another new approach: an intermodal “cloud transport system”—defined as peer-to-peer short-term loans of other subscribers’ bikes or autos for a rental fee, at agreed locations, using a verified Internet exchange/fee system. (A Paris-based system, “Buzzcar,” invented by Zipcar co-founder Robin Chase, is already in operation.)

And then, to make big public transit centers less confusing and off-putting, the planners suggest a smartphone information system that would guide a person through the facility, step by step, to reach any goal from a specific train or bus to a specific exit. Potential result: more people comfortable using transit, fewer cars on the road.

Color any of these ideas as you will—their basic hue is clearly green, in terms of saved energy and thus fewer carbon emissions.

And, in most cases, there’s a social payoff too: enhancing safe and accommodating personal contact among the new systems’ users.

While the devil’s always in the details of new endeavors, one suspects the Koreans are exploring ideas with exciting potential worldwide.

Contact Neal Peirce.
© 2012, The Washington Post Writers Group


Public Transportation Prospects in Israel

BY ALAN WIELUNSKI, Commercial Specialist, U.S. Commercial Service, Tel Aviv, Israel

Editor’s Note: The following outlines upcoming public transportation projects in Israel open to APTA members.

The rising standard of living in Israel, coupled with a significant growth in population, has led to a steady increase in the number of motor vehicles in the country, a growth in motorization level, and a rise in distance traveled.

During the last decade, the transport infrastructure investment to Gross Domestic Product ratio more than doubled, from 0.6 percent to 1.6 percent—one of the fastest growth rates recorded worldwide. This trend is expected to continue and further accelerate, with annual investment expected to exceed $3 billion through traditional budgetary resources and public-private partnerships (PPP).

Israel’s unique economic and demographic characteristics present a real challenge for policy makers. Thus, government policy emphasizes the expansion of public transport, mainly rail systems and mass transit systems, to mitigate the adverse effects of transport activities.

Israel Railways
Israel’s government views railways as a central means of mass transport that is both efficient and environmentally prudent. The train is also viewed as a means for reinforcing the connection between metropolitan centers and the periphery, improving standards of living, providing employment opportunities, increasing commuter mobility, protecting the environment, and providing sustainable development.

After many years of stagnation and a steady decline in passenger volume, Israel Railways has begun actively working toward bridging the wide gap between Israel and other developed countries in the use of rail travel. Since the mid-1990s, its passenger volume has grown rapidly (by more than 1,300 percent since 1990). It is expected that the annual number of passengers will increase from the current 35 million to some 60 million in 2015.

Rail Investment
In an effort to realize the immense potential inherent in the development of the rail system, both in terms of passengers and freight, the Israeli government decided in 2001 to transform the Railway Authority into a governmental company. This step, which facilitated the implementation of organizational efficiency measures, was accompanied by a government decision to invest $7 billion. Today, all Israel Railways projects are planned and managed by the Israel National Roads Company.

In February 2010, this effort was supplemented with an additional $5 billion program that aims to connect Haifa to Beit She’an and Acre to Carmiel—at a total cost of nearly $2 billion—and to convert the railway system from diesel locomotives to electric trains while renewing the rolling stock at a cost of about $3 billion in a multi-year program, to be implemented by 2016, to establish a rail connection between all major and medium-sized Israeli cities.

The government’s vision, as embodied in the multi-year development program, was to connect by rail the four major metropolitan areas (Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, and Beer Sheva) and establish a suburban rail network in the Tel Aviv metropolitan area. Other major projects include an upgrade of the signaling system and initial steps for electrification of the network.

Here is an overview of two major projects, both in the planning stage:

* Eilat Railway: Eilat, a major tourist destination that lies at the southernmost tip of Israel, is also its southern gateway,, acting as the port of entry for goods from Southeast Asia, Africa, and Australia. Connecting Eilat by rail to the center of the country should significantly benefit international trade, tourism, and the development of Israel’s southern region. The project plan will be completed by 2016. Estimated cost: $5 billion.

* Eastern Railway Line: The planned Eastern Railway Line will operate alongside Road 6, the Cross Israel Highway. The line will run from Lod to Hadera and will complement the Coastal Line. It will be used to carry freight and passengers. The Eastern Railway Line is a strategic project due to its potential to incorporate an inland port, which will serve to transfer freight to and from the Haifa and Ashdod seaports. Estimated cost: $1 billion; expected to be built in cooperation with the private sector.

Mass Transit Projects
Israel is predominantly urban (93 percent of the population lives in towns with more than 20,000 inhabitants). Planning policies continue to encourage high-density urban development capable of supporting public transport. Additionally, in recent years special bus lanes were constructed throughout urban centers to enable its free flow.

Specific projects of mass transport are in planning and implementation stages in the urban metropolitan areas of Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and Haifa.

NTA (Metropolitan Mass Transit System) is an advanced mass transit system that will enable development of the Tel Aviv metropolitan area to continue to develop and to provide adequate access to the city center. After years of planning, preliminary work has begun on the first line. The light rail, which will travel above ground and underground at high speed and high frequency, will connect central Tel Aviv to large urban centers. For detailed information about NTA tenders, please click here.