Passenger Transport - August 10, 2012
Photo by Julie Fischer-McCarthy, USDOT
DOT Secretary Ray LaHood and modal administrators recognized White House Champions of Change honorees at an Aug. 1 ceremony in Washington, DC. From left are: standing, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta; FTA Deputy Administrator Therese McMillan; FHWA Administrator Victor Mendez; FRA Administrator Joseph Szabo; honorees Jason Roberts, Rebecca Townsend, and Bob Sloane; DOT Secretary Ray LaHood; and honorees Jacque Whitsitt, Veronica Davis, and Phillip Washington; seated, honorees Dan Richard, David Barger, and Susan Martinovich; FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro; and honorees Beverly Scott, Ellen Voie, David Bennett, and Jerry Enzler. Lowell Porter, not shown, also received the honor.
Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) opened the first 4.5 miles of Orange Line light rail in Irving on July 30. The first section of the 14-mile, $1.3 billion line includes stops at the University of Dallas, Las Colinas Urban Center, and Irving Convention Center.
Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) and APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy joined DART President/Executive Director and APTA Chair Gary C. Thomas at the opening-day event.
“With the opening of the Orange Line, thousands of people now can reach one of the region’s densest employment centers via public transit,” said Thomas. “That makes it easier for people to not only find jobs, but also pursue careers.”
According to DART, light rail will bring new access to employment and educational opportunities to the area, most notably in the master-planned community of Las Colinas. It also provides an alternative to driving for the thousands of area residents who commute to and from work in Irving.
The arrival of light rail in this corridor represents more than 12 years of land-use planning by DART, the city of Irving, the Las Colinas Association, and the Dallas County Utilities Reclamation District.
The second phase of the Orange Line will enter service Dec. 3, extending light rail service to North Lake College and Belt Line Road. Passengers traveling to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport can pick up buses at Belt Line Station; a station at the airport is scheduled to open in 2014.
“The Orange Line is going to be huge for improving mobility and for getting commuters in and out of Irving and Las Colinas,” Hutchison said. “And when the section into DFW Airport is open, the ability to travel to the Dallas area by transit will be enormous for the economy.”
Federal Funds Seed Economic Recovery
DART’s massive $3.4 billion light rail expansion, which includes the Orange Line, has provided a much needed stimulus during the economic downturn.
The Irving buildout received $61.2 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds because of its employment impact and ability to attract additional development, companies, employees, and residents to Irving.
The agency reported that the current light rail construction project produced more than 600 jobs at some 80 contractor companies in 14 states.
Federal officials closely monitored the project’s progress and cited the Orange Line as one of the top “Recovery Act Projects Changing America.”
DART Rail is already the largest electric light rail system in North America. Upon completion of the Orange Line in 2014, it will total almost 90 miles of track.
Irving is the only city in the service area, other than Dallas, to have both light and commuter rail service.
Trinity Railway Express commuter rail has operated in South Irving since December 1996 along the right-of-way of the Rock Island Railway, where the city was founded in the early 1900s.
The highly anticipated arrival of DART Rail has spurred construction of luxury apartment communities throughout the Las Colinas Urban Center, with more than 7,000 units existing or planned, and several transit-oriented developments in the works.
To better link major points of interest in Las Colinas, DART also introduced a new weekday circulator bus service that originates at the Urban Center Station and stops at the entrance of the Irving Convention Center.
Station Art Reflects the Community
DART also has added to its growing collection of public art with new displays at the three new Orange Line stations.
The agency’s award-winning Station Art & Design Program creates site-specific works that allow the stations to become vibrant public spaces instead of purely public transit stops.
A local advisory committee works with planners, architects, and engineers at the earliest stages of station design and later gives input to the station artist about themes and materials, to ensure the station reflects the history and culture of the community it serves.
Art is then integrated into the design of column claddings, platform pavers, windscreens, and landscaping.
The inaugural DART Orange Line train breaks a ribbon as it arrives in Irving, TX.
Miami-Dade Transit (MDT) began providing direct service to Miami International Airport (MIA) July 28 with the opening of a Metrorail station at the airport. The Miami International Airport Station is the 23rd in the Metrorail system and the terminus of a new, 2.4-mile line extension.
With the opening of this extension, MDT has begun operating two different Metrorail lines. The original Green Line serves 22 stations between Dadeland South and Palmetto, while the new Orange Line—with 15 stations—also begins at Dadeland South but diverges at the Earlington Heights Station and continues to the airport.
“With our new Orange Line, not only are we providing direct service to the airport, but we have also increased frequency of travel for 70 percent of our Metrorail patrons,” explained MDT Director Ysela Llort.
“This is a big step in the right direction for public transportation in our community. Now more than ever before, we’re getting more people to more places,” said Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez during inauguration ceremonies for the new station. “With today’s grand opening, our community joins global cities like London, Paris, and Tokyo that already enjoy a rail link that directly connects their major airports to their urban cores.”
The airport station offers a transfer point for the MIA Mover, which transports passengers directly into the airport. MDT also noted that the new connection between Metrorail and the airport will provide a boost to the local economy by creating jobs and facilitating work-related travel, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and improving travel time by taking vehicles off the roadways.
The new MIA Station is a multilevel structure that provides passengers with a central transfer point to Metrobus and later to South Florida Regional Transportation Authority/Tri-Rail commuter rail, Amtrak, Greyhound, tour buses, and other modes of transportation via the Miami Central Station, which will be completed in 2013.
Llort called the Orange Line “not only an important transportation project that will provide travel choices for people, but it is also a transformational economic development project in the sense that every hotel and business in downtown Miami, Kendall, and everywhere else along the Metrorail system will now be at the front door of Miami International Airport: the largest economic engine in the region.”
The Metrorail extension to MIA and MIA Station received $404.7 million in county tax revenues through the People’s Transportation Plan approved by voters in 2002. Florida DOT contributed $101.3 million.
MDT also has opened the parking garages at three Metrorail stations for overnight and long-term parking. The garage at Earlington Heights is accessible at any time, while the Okeechobee and South Miami garages are available during regular operating hours.
Photo courtesy of Miami-Dade County
Even in these difficult times, Michigan voters in 27 municipalities all said “yes” to public transportation-related ballot initiatives on Aug. 7, voting overwhelmingly for public transit millages.
While the lowest “yes” vote was 54 percent—a substantial number by any measure—most of the percentages were in the mid 70s and above.
More than two-thirds of voters in Genesee County, MI—67 percent—approved a five-year renewal of the 0.4-mill countywide property tax that supports the Mass Transportation Authority’s Your Ride paratransit service in Flint, MI. This measure is estimated to raise about $3.3 million in its first year.
In Ingham County, served by Lansing’s Capital Area Transportation Authority, voters approved a four-year, 0.12-mill property tax increase to supplement funding for the public transit agency.
With 74 percent of voters in favor, the measure is expected to generate approximately $784,000 annually on top of the $3.2 million provided by the current 0.48-mill levy.
The Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation will benefit from a two-year property tax renewal measure passed in Oakland County. The continuance of a 0.59-mill levy won with 80 percent of the vote.
Five municipalities in the state approved new and renewed millages to support the Shiawassee Area Transportation Authority in Corunna, MI. In Caledonia Township, 74 percent voted in favor of a two-year, 0.17 mill increase to support existing transportation services; in Owosso, 76 percent favored a five-year, 0.08-mill increase and renewal for a total of 0.3333 mills; in Owosso Township, 74 percent of voters passed a two-year, 0.333-mill levy; 57 percent of voters in Perry renewed an 0.25-mill levy for two years; and Durand voters passed a three-year, 0.175-mill levy by 66 percent.
Three municipalities served by the Interurban Transit Authority in Douglas, MI, approved reinstatement of a half-mill property tax for five years to support the agency. The positive vote was 83 percent in Douglas, 83 percent in Saugatuck, and 80 percent in Saugatuck Township.
Seventy percent of voters in Caro approved a four-year, one-mill levy for the Caro Transit Authority.
Voters in Gogebic County supported a four-year, 0.33-mill levy for the Gogebic County Transit System with 82 percent in favor.
In Isabella County, the four-year restoration of a property tax of 0.9929 of one mill won by 58 percent to 42 percent.
The Ontonagon County Transit System will receive revenues from a four-year, one-mill renewal approved by 70 percent of the county’s voters.
Bedford Township and Frenchtown Township both renewed millages to support services provided by Lake Erie Transit. In Bedford Township, 54 percent of voters approved a quarter-mill property tax; in Frenchtown Township, a three-year, 0.75-mill property tax won with 63 percent of the vote.
Bruce and Washington Townships together approved—with 78 percent of the vote—renewal of a four-year, quarter-mill renewal to support transportation services to seniors and persons with disabilities.
Sixty-four percent of Charlevoix County voters renewed a quarter-mill levy for four years to support operations of the county’s public transit system.
Voters in Clinton County approved a four-year, 0.20-mill tax renewal to support operations of the Clinton Area Transit System, passing the measure with 70 percent of the vote.
In Huron County, a five-year, 0.20-mill renewal for operational support of the Huron Transit Corporation received 73 percent of the vote.
A five-year, one-mill property tax renewal for the Jackson Area Transportation Authority won with 77 percent of the vote in Jackson.
The Yates Dial-a-Ride program, which serves all of Lake County, received 64 percent of votes in the county to renew a five-year, 0.40-mill property tax.
Three quarters of voters in Monroe approved a three-year renewal of a 0.75-mill tax for regular bus routes and service for persons with disabilities.
In Niles, a two-year, half-mill levy for operational support of the Dial-A-Ride bus system passed with 63 percent of the vote.
Renewal of a five-year, 0.25-mill renewal for the Otsego County Bus System passed with 73 percent of votes in the county.
Pere Marquette Charter Township voters approved a five-year, 0.4-mill increase to support public transit service in the township by Ludington Mass Transportation Authority, with 74 percent in favor.
DOT Secretary Ray LaHood just announced $29 million in FTA grants to provide improved access to local transportation for veterans and their families, wounded warriors, and other military personnel, helping them find affordable rides to work, school, shopping, medical care, and additional destinations in their communities. The grants will support 64 projects in 33 states and the Northern Mariana Islands.
The Veterans Transportation and Community Living Initiative funds efforts by local governments and public transit agencies to implement technologies—ranging from “smartphone” applications to real-time transit bus locator information—that help veterans and others access and schedule rides on available buses, vans, and other transportation systems.
“America’s war heroes deserve a chance to support their families, participate in their communities, receive job training, and get to work,” said FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff, who was in Lee County, FL, for the announcement. “It’s vitally important that we remove barriers to success by making transportation available wherever our veterans choose to live, work, and receive care.”
The unemployment rate for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans is more than 12 percent, more than four percentage points above the national average.
Among the largest grants are $2 million each to the San Diego Association of Governments and the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority in San Jose, CA—in San Diego, this funding will purchase such enhanced resources as a one-click website and round-the-clock live telephone support; in San Jose, the money will go to updating an existing one-call/one-click center. Other grants are $1.5 million to Iowa DOT to create a statewide resource for accessible transportation and $1.4 million to Lee County, FL, for informational kiosks at key public transit locations.
FTA received 81 eligible proposals requesting $41 million for this second round of the Veterans Transportation and Community Living Initiative grants, reflecting strong demand for the program. In FY 2011, FTA awarded $34.6 million for 55 veterans’ transportation projects around the country.
More information on individual grants is available here.
DOT, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced Aug. 6 that they will partner with the Governors’ Institute on Community Design to provide enhanced technical guidance to governors seeking to tackle housing, transportation, environmental, and health challenges facing their states.
Established in 2005 and coordinated by Smart Growth America, the institute brings together leading practitioners and academics in government, design, development, and regional economics to help governors make informed choices about growth and development in their states. It is headed by former Maryland Gov. Parris N. Glendening and former New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman.
This latest joint effort, part of the three-agency Federal Partnership for Sustainable Communities, is designed for states seeking to spur economic growth and development while addressing these issues.
EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson explained that the Institute helps states address local challenges in ways that are cheaper and more effective.
DOT Secretary Ray LaHood added: “By working with HUD and EPA over the last three years, we’ve made significant progress to help communities across the country become safer, healthier, and better connected. We’re excited to expand our collaboration by working directly with the Governors’ Institute to increase state transportation options.”
“With this effort, our three agencies are providing the cutting-edge technical assistance states need to create healthier, more livable communities,” said HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan.
The Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART) in Tampa, FL, broke ground Aug. 6 on MetroRapid North-South, the region’s first Bus Rapid Transit system. When it opens in 2013, MetroRapid will run 17.5 miles along Nebraska and Fletcher avenues from the HART Marion Transit Center in downtown Tampa to Telecom Park/Hidden River Corporate Park west of I-75.
HART held the groundbreaking ceremony at the site of a future MetroRapid station stop, near a signalized intersection that will feature Transit Signal Priority (TSP) technology.
The purpose of the new service is to decrease travel time by 10-15 percent with TSP, which uses Global Positioning Satellite-based technology at selected signalized intersections to shorten red lights and lengthen green lights. HART will test TSP this fall.
Unlike local bus routes, which often have bus stops every 750-1,250 feet, MetroRapid has a total of 59 station stops about 2,600-4,000 feet apart, allowing for additional time savings.
There will be bicycle racks at each station and ticket vending machines at major stations.
HART also plans to construct a new park-and-ride facility in Hidden River Corporate Park, near the Fletcher Avenue/I-75 area, which will serve the northeast end of the line.
HART received $31 million from the Hillsborough County Community Investment Tax (CIT) to fund the design and construction phases of this project. According to a June 2012 review of estimated project costs, it is under budget by $5.7 million.
Hillsborough County CIT is also funding the Fletcher park-and-ride facility and implementation of TSP technology with $1.75 million and $2 million respectively.
Richard M. Enty, who joined METRO Regional Transit Authority in Akron, OH, in 2011 as director of planning, has been promoted to executive director of the agency. The previous executive director, Robert K. Pfaff, died July 2.
Enty had served in the top position on an interim basis. Prior to coming to METRO, he was a consultant for Lorain County Transit, Elyria, OH, and served on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad Board of Trustees for more than 16 years. His public transit career began in 1977 at the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority.
“His breadth of experience and knowledge of transportation issues are what garnered him the appointment,” Saundra M. Foster, president of the METRO Board of Trustees, said of Enty. “His sole interest is to continue to grow METRO and make it the best transit system around.”
The Williamsburg Area Transit Authority (WATA) in Williamsburg, VA, has promoted Kevan Danker to the position of executive director.
He joined WATA in 2011 as deputy executive director for planning and development.
Danker has 23 years of experience in public transit in Virginia. Prior to his employment with WATA, he was assistant director of JAUNT Inc., a provider in the Charlottesville region, and manager of paratransit operations for Blacksburg Transit.
“Kevan’s broad experience with transit systems in Virginia and his excellent reputation throughout the transit industry were also strong factors in the board’s decision,” said WATA Board Member Doug Powell.
National Express Transit Services Corporation, based in Cincinnati, OH, has acquired Forsythe Transportation’s public transit operations contracts. National Express also now employs four of Forsythe’s key management and executive team members: William Forsythe, Mark Foster, Tom Greufe, and Gregg Harrington.
National Express will add these contracts to its growing public transit contracting division.
National Express Transit Services Corporation is a wholly owned subsidiary of National Express Corporation and a member of the worldwide family of National Express Group PLC.
Linda Somilleda, 52, director of operations and customer service for Foothill Transit, West Covina, CA, died July 24.
Somilleda was a 16-year employee of the public transit agency, joining the staff in 1996 as marketing and communications specialist. She soon advanced to associate director of Marketing and Communications, then becamer director of that department in 2002.
Earlier this year, the agency promoted her to director of operations and customer service. This promotion allowed her to meld her previous work with the front-line customer service team and the operation of service on the streets of the communities Foothill Transit serves.
She was a graduate of the Leadership APTA Class of 2005 and a member of the APTA Marketing and Communications Committee for many years.
“Linda’s passing is a big loss for our Foothill Transit family,” said Executive Director Doran Barnes. “Linda played an instrumental role on our leadership team, for many years shaping our brand and image, and more recently taking on challenges in the operations and customer service area. Linda was keenly aware of the vision for Foothill Transit and she played a very important role in both shaping that vision and making it happen.”
“We at APTA mourn Linda’s passing,” said APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy, noting that they were colleagues in the Leadership APTA Class of 2005. “We will remember her steadfast participation and quiet yet effective leadership in our association’s programs and committees. Most of all, we will miss her infectious smile and her friendship.”
“The older I get, the more I realize that life does not offer a class for ‘beginners,’ And, with each new experience, both happy and sad, the learning deepens,” said Mary N. Clayton, vice president, North Carolina area manager, Parsons Brinckerhoff, another class member.
“When I met Linda, as part of our Leadership APTA family, I knew she was striking and special in so many ways," Clayton continued. "A lasting impression was created by her smile, her bright personality, and her caring. It was truly a privilege to be her classmate and her friend, and to rejoice in the brief time of knowing her.”
“Linda was a valuable longtime member of the Marketing and Communications Committee and she will be greatly missed,” said committee Chair Richard Maxwell. “She will be remembered by many in the industry not only as a talented, enthusiastic, and capable professional, but as a friend.”
Bonnie Arnold, immediate past chair of the committee, noted that news of Somilleda’s passing coincided with the committee’s recent meeting in Chicago. “She was one of the most loyal members of our group and always attended the meetings whenever she could,” Arnold said. “She was a good colleague and dear friend and I know that she will be greatly missed by all of us.”
"Her absence leaves behind a huge hole in our industry, in this agency, and in our hearts," said Foothill Transit Executive Board Chair Patricia Wallach. "We are devastated, shocked and collectively we mourn her loss with deep sorrow."
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial donations to City of Hope.
A memorial service is scheduled Aug. 17 at the Sheraton Fairplex Conference Center, Pomona, CA. For information, contact Deanna Forrest.
James A. Machesney, 83, of Naples, FL, a longtime public transportation professional and member of the APTA Hall of Fame, died July 31.
Machesney had a 43-year career with Vapor Bus International-A Wabtec Company, supplying equipment for the public transportation industry. At the time of his retirement, he was senior vice president. He was inducted into the APTA Hall of Fame in 1999.
For APTA, Machesney chaired the Associate Member Board of Governors (now the Business Member Board of Governors or BMBG) from 1986 to 1988. During his tenure, the first APTA staff member was assigned to work with associate members, as they were at the time; an associate member was appointed to serve as vice chair of all APTA standing committees; and the first business plan for business member activities was developed.
He was the first recipient of the APTA Associate Member Outstanding Contribution Award (now the Outstanding Business Member).
Machesney was a member of several APTA committees in the late 1990s, including the APTA Board of Directors Past Chairs, EXPO Advisory, High-Speed & Intercity Passenger Rail, and Legislative.
“Jim Machesney was an active and continuing voice for the business members,” said Jim Pearson, marketing manager, Vapor Bus International. “During the time when he chaired the BMBG, he led a major campaign to increase business member membership—to persuade businesses that participated in trade shows but were not active as members to make that switch.” Pearson also cited Machesney’s participation in development of the APTA Standard Bus Procurement Guidelines.
Longtime public transit professional Bernard Ford, who has also chaired the BMBG, described Machesney as “a great individual, a great human being, and a man who was a great influence on the business side of the public transit industry.” He added: “I would call Jim my first mentor in the BMBG. You could trust him; when he told you something, it was going to happen. He was a really honest, straightforward business guy.”
Another former BMBG chair—Alan Wulkan, senior vice president, HDR/InfraConsult—said: “This is very sad news. Jim was a real gentleman, a strong voice for business members, and a good friend to many. I know he will be missed.”
The family suggests donations be made to the American Heart Association, National Center, 7272 Greenville Ave., Dallas, TX 75231; or the United Church of Marco Island, 320 N. Barfield Drive, Marco Island, FL 34145. To submit online condolences, click here.
Classified Advertising and Circulation Coordinator
Communications & Marketing
What are your primary job responsibilities?
I receive and input subscription information for Passenger Transport and respond to inquiries about classified advertising. I’m the point of contact for Passenger Transport advertisers and subscribers. I also send out subscription billing notices. Recently, I’ve begun sending the electronic editions of Passenger Transport and Passenger Transport Express to our online subscribers. In this electronic age, it’s really nice to gain this new critical skill.
It often happens that changes of address can get kind of confusing as far as maintaining subscription records. And when that happens, sometimes delivery is delayed. My approach is to resolve this matter quickly so the member continues to receive Passenger Transport in a timely fashion.
In proofing classified ads, we sometimes find areas that need either clarification or correction, such as when someone has written a “respond by” date – that has already passed! So when I contact an advertiser to verify the text of a classified ad, I let the advertiser know that the editors have read through the ad and want to double-check to make sure that the phrasing of the ad is exactly what they want to say, the wording they want to use. After the correction is made in house, I contact them one last time before we go to press.
Do you have direct contact with APTA members? If so, please talk about times you’ve helped out a member.
One advertiser was trying to locate a classified ad—a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise notice—that his agency had placed in Passenger Transport some years ago, he but had no idea which specific issue included it. He had a general sense of which year it appeared, but the employee who had submitted the notice was no longer working there and the agency needed proof for FTA that it had appeared. I was able to look through my records and find the requested ad. The person was very grateful when I was able to locate it.
In another case, I sent a copy of the annual APTA calendar to a member who requested it for his grandson, who has a love of transportation, specifically trains. The calendar was actually a Christmas gift. Afterward, the subscriber sent me a really nice Christmas card.
What initiatives, projects, or programs have you worked on at APTA that you have taken particular pride in completing?
Currently, I am finalizing a guide for APTA employees explaining my job duties and how other people can navigate the association’s NetForum database to track what I do. It’s a step-by-step guide: how to find information, the protocols for entering data and making changes; and how to gather information regarding subscriptions and accounting-related tasks I perform.
The purpose of this guide—for internal staff use only—is to have a single resource where APTA staff can find answers about inputting subscription information.
How did you “land” at APTA? How long have you worked here?
I was working in health care, but I wanted to get back to doing something that had to do with what I studied in college, which was communications and marketing. So, when I saw the job opening at APTA, I applied for it. I’ve worked for APTA three years in September.
I’d never worked with classified advertising before coming to APTA. The largest challenge I face is the number of people I deal with, since so many public transit systems and businesses want to place classified ads and subscribe to Passenger Transport.
Could you tell us something about yourself that might surprise us?
I am a history buff. Every pet I’ve ever had is named after a historical figure. The History Channel shows a special that covers all the U.S. presidents, from George Washington to George W. Bush, and I remember being most impressed with the presidencies of Harry S Truman and Bill Clinton—so I named my cats Truman and Clinton. And, my favorite period of history is the Middle Ages. So I could have gone with Charlemagne or William the Conqueror (!), but then I said to myself: “No, I’ll stick with Truman and Clinton!!”
Make sure you see LaTara Jackson’s video, now that you've read this!
Thomas C. Noll
Director of Technical Support and Capital Programs
Port Authority of Allegheny County
Leadership APTA Class of 2011
How many people does your agency employ?
How long have you worked in the public transportation industry?
How long have you been an APTA member? 17 years
What drew you to a career in public transportation?
Prior to coming to the Port Authority, I worked for a small city where I got involved in capital projects that made improvements for the residents. I enjoyed that but, around the same time, I saw a position available at the Port Authority focusing on capital projects and programming. The authority had a very aggressive capital program then, including the rehabilitation of one of the LRT lines, the construction of a new busway, and several large state of good repair projects. I applied for the job and have been here working in capital projects and programming ever since.
What have you found to be the most valuable APTA benefit or resource—that helps you do your job?
The conferences and the associated committee meetings, as well as participating in Leadership APTA. It’s nice to be able to attend the conferences and speak with vendors and contractors to discuss new projects and new approaches, using the latest technologies. It’s also a great opportunity to talk about industry trends and get others’ opinions of the challenges you or your organization may be experiencing.
Participating in Leadership APTA has given me a whole new network of contacts that I can access for help, information, or to share ideas. It also provided me with a greater exposure to people at all levels in the industry. Through the program I was provided the opportunity to interview agency CEOs from agencies of all sizes, gaining insight on the various challenges agencies are facing across the country.
Please explain why or how this has helped.
The authority uses multiple APTA standards developed by the various committees. For example, my department uses the APTA Standard for Rail Transit Structure Inspection and Maintenance as the basis for developing and implementing the authority’s comprehensive Bridge and Structure Inspection Program. We also used the APTA Standard for Heavy Duty Transportation Escalator Design Guidelines as the basis for the escalator design for the North Shore Connector expansion project.
These two examples are part of the Manual of Standards and Recommended Practices for Rail Transit Systems developed by the Fixed Structures Inspection and Maintenance Committee and represent an industry consensus on practices to help rail transit achieve a high level of safety for passengers, employees, and the general public.
What do you like most about your job?
Implementing the projects, and it doesn’t have to be a large one. We often implement capital projects for the Operations Division, such as purchasing new shop equipment or rehabilitating older facilities, and I believe these efforts can really help the maintenance folks put out the daily service.
Also, I like seeing projects through from start to finish. A lot of them will be around for an awfully long time, and it’s gratifying to know I had a part in making them happen. For me, getting involved in these improvements means I’m working to enhance the quality of life for the people in and around the Pittsburgh area.
What is unique about your agency?
What is unique about our service area is the city’s weather and topography. The downtown area is fairly compact—with narrow streets—and we’re surrounded by three rivers and mountains. The Pittsburgh area can experience hard winters with snow and ice storms as well as hot, humid summers. To provide service in and around Pittsburgh, we own and maintain 81 bridges or portions of bridges and nine tunnels; we have 50 miles of track and 18 miles of busway. We also own two inclined planes, one of which is the oldest continuously operating one in the country!
Daily commuters, as well as tourists, use our inclines to gain access to their homes, restaurants, and sightseeing. The authority has mixed-use tunnels, stations, and fixed guideways. To operate and maintain all these facilities and to deal with this very difficult topography, the Port Authority owns many different pieces of equipment, and ensures that its employees receive the training to operate them.
Our light rail vehicles, for instance, are equipped with sleet cutters. The system has switch heaters to melt the snow and ice, we have a brine truck to pre-treat our right of ways and bridges, and we can deploy as many as 40 pieces of snow removal equipment if needed. We also stay prepared for hillside stabilization issue because of rock and mud slides.
Depending on weather conditions, putting out service can be unique each day, especially during the winter.
Make sure you see Thomas C. Noll's video, now that you've read this!
Philadelphia’s Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority recently became the fourth public transportation agency honored by APTA for achieving the Gold Recognition Level of the APTA Sustainability Commitment program. The other agencies at this level are TransLink, Vancouver, BC; Intercity Transit, Olympia, WA; and Sound Transit, Seattle, WA.
Public transit agencies and businesses that participate in this program on a voluntary basis make a commitment to putting processes and actions into place which allow for continuous improvement on environmental, social, and economic sustainability.
SEPTA—a founding signatory of the APTA Sustainability Commitment program in 2009—has instituted a full-scale sustainability program that has significantly reduced its environmental footprint. In addition to having the second largest hybrid-electric bus fleet in the U.S., SEPTA achieved a 19.7 percent reduction in water usage per passenger miles traveled (PMT); a 10.0 percent reduction in fuel use per PMT; a 4.0 percent reduction in electricity use per PMT; and 3.6 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions per PMT.
Recently SEPTA partnered with Viridian Energy, a Philadelphia-based smart grid firm, to implement the Wayside Energy Storage program. This pilot project will develop wayside energy storage technology to capture, store, and reuse electricity generated from regenerative braking on trains on the Market-Frankford Line.
“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 M. 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.”
Photo by Heather Redfern, SEPTA
Arcadis US Inc.—a design, engineering, and management firm based in Highlands Ranch, CO—is the latest APTA member organization to sign on to the APTA Sustainability Commitment, demonstrating its support for sustainability efforts.
The purpose of the Sustainability Commitment, established in 2009, is to give APTA members credit for the efforts they are already making and to support those who are taking first steps. It sets out common sustainability principles, an action plan, and a course for progress.
APTA members who sign on commit to implementing core internal processes and actions that set the basis for continuous improvement on environmental, social, and economic sustainability. Signatories can obtain higher recognition levels by achieving additional actions, introducing long-term processes, and attaining reduction targets.
Public transportation planners and schedulers gathered in Baltimore for the recent APTA Multimodal Operations Planning Workshop, hosted by the Maryland Transit Administration in Baltimore and Montgomery County Transit-Ride On in Rockville, MD.
Educational sessions focused on such issues as scheduling, facilities planning, technological advances, designing routes, and Bus Rapid Transit. The program also incorporated a multimodal tour of the Baltimore-Washington region; reports on current and future projects of the host agencies; and preparing for special events and natural disasters.
PHOENIX, AZ—Shana Ellis, Tempe councilmember and board member for both Valley Metro and METRO light rail, has received the 2012 Maricopa Association of Governments’ Regional Excellence Award.
As chair of the Valley Metro board in 2011 and a METRO board member, Ellis was instrumental in the development of unified leadership with the recent hiring of a single chief executive officer for both agencies.
NORTHVILLE, MI—Rodrigo Meirelles has joined Fras-le in the newly created post of vice president and general manager for the company’s North American and European operations.
Meirelles has 17 years of global management experience in the commercial vehicle industry, most recently as commercial director of commercial vehicles for the Eaton Corporation in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.
CINCINNATI, OH—Michael Arrow, P.E., has been appointed assistant general manager of maintenance and technology for First Transit at its Connecticut Transit (CTTransit) operations, headquartered in Hartford, CT. He succeeds Steve Warren, who retired after 36 years with CTTransit.
A professional engineer, Arrow formerly served as chief of quality performance within the Department of Buses at MTA New York City Transit. He brings more than 30 years of experience to First Transit.
ELYRIA, OH—Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems LLC announced the appointment of Carlos Hungria as chief operating officer and a member of the Bendix executive board.
Hungria comes to Bendix after a 30-year career as a part of the Volvo organization. Most recently, he served as chief operating officer at Volvo Powertrain.
Thomas J. Harris
CINCINNATI, OH—FirstGroup America has appointed Thomas J. Harris vice president, safety and human resources, for its First Transit and First Services division.
Harris joined the company in May 2010 as a senior attorney for FirstGroup America. He has almost 20 years of legal experience, most recently with Comair. He also is a former senior city attorney with the city of Cincinnati.
Frank Lin, Brock LaForty, Nathan M. Macek, Alexander King
NEW YORK, NY—Parsons Brinckerhoff (PB) has announced appointments in its offices around the world.
Frank Lin was named general manager of the company’s Taiwan operations. His 16 years of management and engineering experience include serving as deputy director with Taiwan Fixed Network Corporation and deputy director with Hong-Yun Technology Co Ltd.
Brock LaForty has been named area manager of PB’s office in Charlotte, NC. He joins the firm from STV Incorporated, where he was a senior associate leading the national transportation planning practice. LaForty has worked in transportation for more than 16 years.
Nathan M. Macek is a principal consultant in PB’s Washington, DC, office, responsible for expanding the firm’s consulting practice in transport project development and finance. He is a specialist in developing financial plans for FTA New Starts projects and most recently served as a consulting manager for a large engineering firm.
Alexander King has joined PB’s office in Glastonbury, CT, as a consultant. He worked most recently as a senior freight planner and analyst at a transportation consulting firm.
DENVER, CO—Stantec announced the appointment of Ted Rutledge as a transportation managing principal in its Denver office.
He brings more than 35 years of experience in engineering design, project management, group management, and financial and risk control.
Prior to joining Stantec, Rutledge served as Colorado transportation department manager for a full-service global design firm.
SAN DIEGO, CA—Jean-Marc Landry has joined Cubic Transportation Systems as vice president, sales and marketing, for North America. He succeeds Paul Muldoon, who is retiring.
Landry brings more than 30 years experience in the transportation industry to his new position. Most recently he was vice president, North American sales, for Nova Bus, a division of Volvo Bus Corporation.
LOMBARD, IL—Veolia Transportation announced the appointment of Steve New as vice president, business development in Canada.
New’s three-decade career in transportation management began as a transportation planner at the Urban Transit Authority and British Columbia (BC) Transit. After several promotions, including a term as BC Transit’s chief operating officer, he became co-president and chief executive officer of the agency.
For nine years, New led the mountain venue (Whistler area) public transit efforts for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, which provided service to 1.4 million residents, spectators, and athletes. He is also a past chairman of the Canadian Urban Transit Association.
Bryan P. Mulqueen
RALEIGH, NC—Gannett Fleming has promoted Bryan P. Mulqueen, P.E., to national manager of its Transit & Rail Practice, based in the Raleigh office. Most recently he was transit and rail manager for the firm’s Southeast and Delmarva regions, as well as program manager for the engineering and architecture contract supporting the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s six-year capital improvement program.
James A. Wolfe
POMPANO BEACH, FL—Florida DOT District IV Secretary James A. Wolfe has been named to the Governing Board of the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority/Tri-Rail.
Wolfe is a 34-year veteran of Florida DOT, where he has served as a senior manager since 1987 and also has been director of development and director of operations with the agency.
LIVONIA, MI—Eric Bates has joined ROUSH CleanTech as director of strategic accounts.
Bates comes to ROUSH CleanTech with more than 20 years in the propane industry. Most recently, he held numerous posts at Ferrellgas, a major propane energy provider, including director of national accounts, national director of autogas, director of sales in the western region, autogas business development manager, and senior national account manager.
BOULDER, CO—Sara DiOrio has joined Transit Marketing Group Inc. as eastern region sales manager.
DiOrio joins the firm from Scynexis Inc., where she was a software sales trainer. She also was a customer data and training specialist with Digital Recorders Inc.
PHILADELPHIA, PA—Urban Engineers Inc. announced the promotion of Stephen Ehrlich, P.E., LEED® AP, to director for construction management of facilities and aviation services.
During his nearly 30-year career, Ehrlich has successfully managed construction projects in many areas including public transit and passenger rail.
Marc J. Rost, Philip Wilson
AUDUBON, PA—Johnson Matthey announced the appointments of two new regional sales managers for its Stationary Emissions Control North America business unit. Marc J. Rost serves the Northeastern U.S., based in Audubon, and Philip Wilson covers the Southwestern U.S., based in Spring, TX.
Rost previously served as regional sales manager for Lechler Inc., St. Charles, IL. He earlier held various sales, marketing, and product management positions at the Selas Fluid Division of the Linde Group, Blue Bell, PA.
Wilson has more than 17 years of experience in industrial engine sales. He joins Johnson Matthey from ComAp LLC, Roscoe, IL, where he was a sales manager. He also held positions with Dynalco Controls Company, Fort Lauderdale, FL, and Woodward Governor Company, Fort Collins, CO.
Margaret McAustin, Paula Lantz, Patricia Wallach, Peggy Delach, Carol Herrera
WEST COVINA, CA—For the first time in its 24-year history, Foothill Transit has a five-member executive board consisting of all women. From left: Pasadena Councilwoman Margaret McAustin, Pomona Councilwoman Paula Lantz, Board Chair Patricia Wallach, Covina Councilwoman Peggy Delach, and Diamond Bar Councilwoman Carol Herrera.
The historic roster was noted for the minutes and was acknowledged by each successive presenter. Delach, a past board chair and vice chair, is an alternate who was sitting in for Glendora Councilman Doug Tessitor.