Passenger Transport - August 24, 2012
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Unspent Federal Earmark Funds Available for Other Projects

The Obama Administration announced Aug. 17 that it is making available $473 million to states in unspent funds for surface transportation infrastructure projects—money originally earmarked in appropriations from Fiscal Year 2003 to FY 2006.  While the president has vowed to veto any new bill that comes to his desk with earmarks and would support legislation to permanently ban them, he noted that these funds were already appropriated and thus should be distributed.

“We’re not going to let politics stand between construction workers and good jobs repairing our roads and bridges,” President Barack Obama said in announcing the availability of funds.

DOT Secretary LaHood added: “We are freeing up these funds so states can get down to the business of moving transportation projects forward and putting our friends and neighbors back to work.”

The past appropriations acts contain provisions that authorize LaHood to make the funds available for eligible surface transportation projects. State DOTs can use their unspent earmarked highway funds, some of which are nearly 10 years old, on any eligible public transit, passenger rail, highway, or port project, provided they identify them by Oct. 1 and obligate them by Dec. 31.

Funds not obligated by the Dec. 31 deadline will be proportionally redistributed in FY 2013 to states that met the deadline.

A list of available funds by state can be found here.

Transport for London Puts Forth an Olympic Effort

The 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London have recently concluded, with the focus throughout on the athletes. But a strong supporting “team” was Transport for London (TfL), which provided Tube (subway), light rail, and “regular” rail to and from the Olympic events. In fact, these components of the public transportation network carried more people to and from Olympic venues than at any other time in their respective histories.

The Tube reported more than 60 million trips during the Olympics—30 percent above normal levels, higher than at any previous point in its 149 years of operation. Dockland Light Railway saw more than 6 million trips—an increase of more than 100 percent—while London Overground listed nearly 6 million trips—a 47 percent increase.

All TfL transportation networks provided additional services and ran longer hours during the games, including a “third peak” service on some lines on the busiest days of competition.

To improve capacity and reliability of services across London and the United Kingdom, TfL invested £6.5 billion. Officials also conducted pre-tests of all operations plans (through both live and tabletop exercises) to ensure that no plans would be “live” for the first time during the Games. In addition, TfL provided a new website to help people plan their journeys.

TfL Transport Commissioner Peter Hendy CBE said: “We are proud to have played our part in delivering a great Olympic Games.” In noting the record-breaking numbers of trips taken by the public, he added: “By changing the way you traveled, you helped support the games and kept London moving.”


Transport for London Press

London crowds greet a TfL Routemaster bus carrying the Olympic Torch.


DOT Releases Updated Nationwide Geographic Databases for 2012

DOT’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), a part of the Research and Innovative Technology Administration, recently released the 2012 edition of the National Transportation Atlas Databases (NTAD), featuring updated datasets from last year’s NTAD.

NTAD 2012 is a set of nationwide geographic databases of transportation facilities, transportation networks, and associated infrastructure. These datasets include spatial information for transportation modal networks and intermodal terminals, as well as the related attribute information for these features. Metadata documentation, as prescribed by the International Organization of Standards (ISO), is also provided for each database.

These datasets support research, analysis, and decision-making across all modes of transportation. They have applications at the national, regional, state, and local levels throughout the transportation community.

The data used to compile NTAD 2012 came from BTS’ partners within DOT and other federal agencies. BTS performs structured quality evaluations on these data before they are included in the NTAD.

This year’s NTAD consists of 32 datasets, 16 of which were updated for the 2012 release, including intermodal terminals, national railway crossings, nonattainment areas, and public transit rail lines and stations, among other data layers. It also incorporates substantial revisions to datasets for national parks, ports, National Bridge Inventory, and railways.

NTAD 2012 is provided in shapefile format, which is compatible with most Geographical
Information Systems software. It is provided with International Organization for Standards formatted metadata for all shapefiles for
the first time this year.

The document is free. Copies of the NTAD can be downloaded or ordered in DVD format.

Sound Transit Breaks Ground on Northgate Link Light Rail Extension

Sound Transit in Seattle joined its partners and members of the community to break ground Aug. 17 on the biggest Sound Transit 2 construction project to date: the 4.3-mile Northgate Link light rail extension, which will run from Husky Stadium to stations serving the University District, Roosevelt, and Northgate.

The ceremony at the site of the future Roosevelt Station focused on the project’s partnerships and collaboration with FTA, the city of Seattle, King County Metro Transit, University of Washington, Puget Sound Regional Council, labor unions, contractors, businesses, and community organizations.

FTA Administrator Peter M. Rogoff called the light rail extension “a big win for Seattle, bringing the region a step closer to completing a first-class transportation system with seamless connections between downtown and SeaTac.”

“Today represents a historic step toward delivering the 36 miles of light rail extensions that voters approved in 2008,” said Pat McCarthy, Sound Transit board chair and Pierce County executive. According to McCarthy, the project will be responsible for more than 20,000 direct and indirect jobs, giving a boost to the regional economy.

“Expanding rail transit in Seattle is critical to our future. It gives people a better choice for getting around town. It will help us move away from our dependency on oil. And it creates opportunities to build the kind of vibrant communities that make city living so special,” added Sound Transit Board Member and Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn. “Today’s groundbreaking is the latest milestone in an effort to expand transit that is made possible by strong and successful relationships with regional partners. I look forward to continuing to work to expand transit in Seattle.”

The community celebration following the groundbreaking ceremony featured musical performances and such family-friendly activities as a Link train photo booth and the chance to meet Zap Gridlock, Sound Transit’s traffic-fighting superhero.

The $2.1 billion Northgate Link Extension will run mostly underground through one of the region’s most congested travel corridors. When it opens in 2021, it will offer fast, frequent, and congestion-free service 20 hours a day that connects North Seattle destinations with the University of Washington, Capitol Hill, downtown Seattle, South Seattle, Tukwila, and SeaTac. The project will get underway with demolition activities in the Roosevelt area.

Construction continues to move toward a 2016 opening of the University Link light rail extension connecting downtown Seattle, Capitol Hill, and Husky Stadium. Sound Transit is also preparing to move forward with an expedited extension of light rail southward from the airport to South 200th Street that will also open in 2016. Future Link extensions to the north, east, and south are scheduled to open in 2023, stretching the light rail system to more than 50 miles.


Participants in the ceremonial ground breaking for Sound Transit’s Northgate Link Light Rail Extension include, from left, Joshua Newman, Maple Leaf Community Council; Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, also a Sound Transit board member; Tim Wolfe, Roosevelt Neighborhood Association; Washington State Sen. David Frockt; Jim O'Halloran, Roosevelt Neighborhood Association; Pat McCarthy, Sound Transit board chair and Pierce County executive; Dow Constantine, Sound Transit board member and King County executive; Keith Weir, Seattle/King County Building and Construction Trades Council; FTA Regional Administrator Rick Krochalis; Jan Drago, former Sound Transit Board and King County Council member; Josh LaBelle, Seattle Theatre Group; and Joe McDermott, Sound Transit Board and King County Council member.


CUTA Creates Advocacy Video and Campaign

As part of a national grassroots advocacy campaign for public transportation systems in Canada, the Canadian Urban Transit Association (CUTA) has created a video titled Let’s Talk Public Transit. The purpose of the video is to demonstrate the impact on federal investments in public transit.

CUTA explains that the Hon. Denis Lebel, Canadian minister of transport, infrastructure, and communities, is in the process of consulting with provinces and key stakeholders to determine what to include in Canada’s next Long-Term Infrastructure Plan (LTIP). Its “Take Action” campaign also includes a template letter to the minister with recommendations to make public transit a central pillar of the next LTIP, and a social media campaign to spread the word and take action.

More information about the video and the campaign is available here.

Barry Is New CT DOT Deputy Commissioner

Connecticut DOT has announced that Anna M. Barry, senior director of vehicle engineering and quality assurance for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) in Boston, will join the department in September as its deputy commissioner.
 In this position, Barry will fill the role of chief operating officer and support the commissioner in implementing the strategy and goals for the agency.

Barry has more than 35 years of experience in transportation, particularly public transit and railroad operations. In her current post at MBTA, she oversees the technical development of the agency’s multi-billion-dollar, multimodal vehicle procurement program. She has worked in several management positions during her 24 years with the MBTA, including director of subway operations—managing the nation’s oldest subway system—and director of railroad operations—overseeing commuter rail.

“I am pleased to welcome Anna to the DOT.  She has versatility and depth of experience that will help our team maximize our service to the citizens of Connecticut and improve the quality of our growing intermodal system,” said DOT Commissioner James P. Redeker.

For APTA, Barry serves on the Access Committee, Commuter Rail Committee, High-Speed & Intercity Passenger Rail Committee, Rail Conference Planning Subcommittee, Rail Transit CEOs Subcommittee, and Research and Technology Committee. She is also a member of the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials and the WTS Boston Chapter Board of Directors.

MTI Offers Course for Bus Operator Awareness

The Mineta Transportation Institute has released the Bus Operator Awareness Research and Development Training Program. It is available for download at the institute’s website.

The Transportation Security Administration worked in cooperation with the National Transportation Security Center of Excellence, managed through the Science and Technology Directorate of the Department of Homeland Security, to develop this course. Through the intensive efforts of four universities and two federal agencies, the team conducted extensive research, both nationally and abroad, to identify appropriate countermeasures and related skill sets for bus operators relative to identifying suspicious and dangerous activity and reacting appropriately with a focus on life safety concerns.

The purpose of the training program is to help enhance the abilities of bus operators to:

* Quickly and effectively evaluate suspicious and dangerous activities;
* Take actions to protect themselves and their passengers; and
* Provide timely and accurate information to law enforcement through their control center.

The program includes both text in PDF format and a Power Point presentation.

ABC Companies Acquires TMC

ABC Companies, based in Faribault, MN, has acquired the assets of TMC Group Inc., a manufacturer of small and medium-size buses in Elkhart, IN.

The new operating company will be known as Ameritrans Bus Inc.

“We believe this investment complements our core transit and motorcoach business and
strengthens and diversifies ABC,” said ABC President & CEO Dane Cornell. "We look forward to growing the business founder Al Foris and his team have built.”

Distribution of the small and mid-size bus products will continue through the dealer network established by TMC Group Inc.


Meet Rosa Navejar!

Rosa Navejar
President, The Rios Group
Vice Chair, Fort Worth Transportation Authority (The T)
Vice Chair, APTA Transit Board Members Committee

How many people does your agency employ?
Approximately 575

How long have you worked in the public transportation industry?
I have spent six years directly in public transportation through my work as a transit board member of the Fort Worth Transportation Authority (The T). But as president of the Fort Worth Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, I have also worked on transportation issues. We consider transportation a key issue as we work to promote business and economic development in Fort Worth and Tarrant County. So, considering both of these capacities, my total time in transportation is 11 years.
How long have you been an APTA member? 6 years
What drew you to a career in public transportation?
We need to make sure transportation infrastructure and multimodal options are a priority, not an afterthought. What drew me into becoming more involved in multimodal solutions was the “parking lot” we have here, better known as Interstate 35.

According to the 2010 Census, Fort Worth grew at four times the national average, with the growth in parts of North Fort Worth exceeding six to seven times faster. Our former mayor used to say that nowhere else on earth could you have a flat tire, change it, and still not lose your place in line on I-35. So in many ways, the congestion is what drew me into becoming an advocate for public transportation.
What have you found to be the most valuable APTA benefit or resource—that helps you do your job?
Best practices from other transit board members and agencies, thinking out of the box, and looking at new, alternative sources of funds and methods of project delivery for transportation are among my favorites. Through networking, I’ve learned from other community examples of how local advocates support public transit, and ways to reach out to the community as a whole.
Please explain why or how this has helped.
What has been enormously helpful is being able to reach out to other transit board members and agencies across the nation to talk about things happening locally. For example, right now we have a big project—TexRail. I’m able to work with APTA colleagues and discover what advocacy groups have done to help local businesses and the public understand the value that comes from supporting transit initiatives.

Wearing my hat as the president of a chamber of commerce, I have made transportation one of our most important issues because I know it’s a top priority when people relocate. They look at transportation and education as key economic and quality of life indicators. For our community, I want to ensure that “transportation” includes all modes—especially public transit.
What do you like most about your job?
Back to my Chamber hat … The one thing I love the most are the connections and opportunities we’ve been able to provide to businesses. While our mission centers around Hispanic business owners, we also recognize that any business we create helps our community as a whole.

As vice chair of The T, what I love is helping people—especially making sure that people have access to public transit to get them to jobs and educational opportunities. I also love promoting the career opportunities available within public transit. I’m mindful that much of our workforce will be retiring soon, so I have the opportunity to make connections with the next generation of transportation professionals to build a good, diverse workforce.
What is unique about your agency?
What’s unique is the range of services The T provides. Through partnerships (with the Convention & Visitors Bureau, Downtown Fort Worth Inc., Sundance Square, and the Omni and Sheraton hotels), we offer Molly the Trolley—a downtown service that moves people to various venues and places. We provide standard bus service, we co-own and operate the Trinity Railway Express, and we have park-and-ride services and vanpools and MITS (our Mobility Impaired Transit System). The T was also instrumental in moving people to and from the Super Bowl a couple of years ago. Our partners for that effort included all the organizations listed above, plus the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce and the mayor/city of Fort Worth.

I think that sometimes when people say “transportation,” they don’t think about the many modes involved. It’s just as former APTA Chair M.P. Carter always said: “Tell our story.” We need to tell all the stories of transit, all the time.

Make sure you see Rosa Navejar's video, now that you've read this!


Meet Christian Richards!

Christian Richards
Legislative Analyst
Government Affairs

What are your primary job responsibilities?
As a legislative analyst, I track federal legislation affecting public transportation policy—including authorization law, appropriations, and tax issues—to inform our members of the changes affecting their businesses or public transit systems.

I draft and/or edit many of the Legislative Updates sent out by Government Affairs; help to craft messaging—which is to say, how APTA can best frame its point of view in a way that will resonate with a particular audience, such as Congress; conduct background research; and cull documents for different projects. I played a small part in editing recent Congressional testimony, which was a first for me, and I was particularly excited to be a part of that.

In conjunction with other Government Affairs staff members, I’ve started meeting with Congressional staff and outside groups to discuss certain federal issues: namely, restoring parity to public transit commuter benefits relative to parking benefits and continuing the alternative fuels tax credit.

Do you have direct contact with APTA members? If so, please talk about recent times you’ve helped out a member.
Yes, I do. I field members’ requests for information on such items as updates on the status of federal legislation; background information on how their elected officials have supported public transit (e.g., votes, sponsored legislation, speeches); and questions of best practices regarding arranging and conducting meetings with Members of Congress.

Some of our members are seasoned professionals in meeting with their senators and representatives, while others have never done so. We want to be sure that APTA members are confident and prepared when they walk into that meeting, so if members have any questions at all, I want to answer them so they can put their best foot forward.

With the recent Congressional reapportionment, some APTA members find themselves represented in the House by someone with whom they are unfamiliar. I’ve worked to find such information as the elected official’s voting histories, speeches, and appropriations requests to gain an understanding of his or her stance on public transportation. We can then use that information to think about the best way for our members to approach a meeting.

What initiatives, projects, or programs have you worked on at APTA that you have taken particular pride in completing?
I am still fairly new at APTA (I started in January) and the nature of my job is extraordinarily collaborative with other Government Affairs staff. I thoroughly enjoyed working at the APTA Legislative Conference in March, as well as helping with details of the Washington Day component of the recently completed, and successful, UIC 8th World Congress on High-Speed Rail in Philadelphia.

How did you “land” at APTA? How long have you worked here? Have you previously worked in the public transportation field, and if so, doing what?
Prior to joining APTA, I worked on Capitol Hill for four years on the House side. I started in the front office, answering phones and filing paper, before eventually working my way up and landing a legislative portfolio.

As the most junior staffer on the legislative team, I mostly handled the issues that other staffers were less interested in working on directly. I was assigned to cover the House Science Committee, which I found to be incredibly exciting.

This committee includes the subcommittee on space and aeronautics, which has jurisdiction over civilian space travel and its relationship with DOT. That’s how I started following DOT Secretary Ray LaHood on Twitter, and—through his tweets—where I first became truly interested in working on public transportation issues.

The process may seem unusual, and I think being a daily Metro rider and natural curiosity about how that system operates helped with my initial awareness of federal public transit policy, but that’s the long story of how I decided this was a field in which I wanted to work. APTA provided me with the opportunity and I couldn’t be happier that they did so.

Could you tell us something about yourself that might surprise us?
A few years ago, out of the blue, my cousin invited me to race a triathlon with him. I said sure, raced, did extremely poorly, and had a blast—I was hooked. After a few seasons of racing and gaining experience, I’ll be racing my first Ironman this October: a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride, and then a full marathon.

Make sure you see Christian Richards' video, now that you've read this!


Forging Regional Partnerships for Development

BY SUSAN BERLIN, Senior Editor

Public transportation is an integral part of regional development projects—so the first concern is making sure that it has a place at the table from the beginning.

This is especially true in the case of Greater Bridgeport Transit (GBT), a comparatively small public transit agency that operates 57 fixed route buses and 40 demand-response vehicles in the Bridgeport, CT, region. GBT currently is working with local and federal partners on three transit-oriented development (TOD) projects in its service area.

“There’s nothing particularly unique about partnerships,” said Doug Holcomb, AICP, GBT chief executive officer. “What’s really gratifying to us is that public transit, both rail and bus, is central to the region’s planning process.”

Holcomb explained that GBT has been a critical element of regional development and growth during the past 10 years. “We want to be sure our needs are considered up front in the planning and development process,” he said. “We’ve developed strong working partnerships with the municipalities we serve, especially the city of Bridgeport and the Greater Bridgeport Regional Council (GBRC), part of the region’s Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO).”

GBT is currently involved in TOD projects in Bridgeport, Fairfield, and Stratford, using existing public transit lines that become hubs of mixed-use development that allow for walkable neighborhoods and minimal disruption of the environment.

The agency is working with Bridgeport, GBRC, and others to develop a mixed-use community in the city’s East End—using a $3.5 million HUD Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant to integrate housing, economic development, transportation, and environmental planning along the MTA Metro-North Railroad corridor.

“We’ve been involved in some of the East Bridgeport projects since the beginning,” Holcomb said. “We’ll be the conduit for funding for the alternative modes analysis: we received $180,000 in federal funds. Other parts of the project will flex urban Surface Transportation Program funding to Section 5307 [Urbanized Area Formula Grants] for use in the East Bridgeport Development Corridor and long-range transportation plan.”

In Fairfield, GBT and the regional council are working with the town to connect bus service with a new Metro-North station that opened in December 2011.

“A large-scale office park is planned near the new station in Fairfield,” Holcomb said. “It will have lots of parking—but it also lays a foundation for mixed-use transit-oriented development.”

He cited the role of the federal Sustainable Communities Partnership—comprising DOT, HUD, and EPA—in providing funding to this project: “The partnership supports existing communities and promotes affordable housing and public transit through coordination of its policies and investment in the work.”

The TOD project in Stratford will rebuild the town center with the existing Metro-North station serving as the hub. This development should help ease severe congestion in the town center, caused by inadequate parking for the commuter rail station, difficulty accessing the station by shuttles and buses, and a lack of pedestrian and safe bicycle access between public transit points and commercial properties.

The question is, how does a public transportation agency reserve its place in the regional planning process?

“First,” Holcomb said, “it’s a matter of coordination with the other participants: the regional entities, city, towns. GBT is a voting member of the MPO, so we’re already at the table with the regional planning agency, discussing projects.”

He described how GBT employees serve on technical advisory committees considering city or regional development. For example, one committee is preparing to select a consultant for a new rail station on the east side of Bridgeport, which will act as the anchor of development in that area.

GBT also is a member of the city’s Design Review Committee, which provides information to developers. “This means we’re at the table early in the planning; we can see how a development site may be served with transit or what amenities will be needed,” he added. The public transit agency also works closely with the business community through the Bridgeport Regional Business Council.

“We work hard to understand and avail ourselves of resources that support these development efforts. If it’s important to the region and the riders, it’s important to us,” Holcomb said. “It’s important to say that we’re part of the process.”


APTF Plans GALA 2012 at Annual Meeting

On Monday, Oct. 1, from 7-9 p.m., attendees at the APTA Annual Meeting in Seattle are invited to support the American Public Transportation Foundation (APTF)—and get to know the up-and-coming talent in the public transportation industry—at this year’s APTF Gala. The Jazz Unlimited Band, a favorite musical group in the Pacific Northwest, will perform at the event.

It will be an evening of entertainment, food, music, dancing—and that all-important networking—all to honor this year’s APTF scholarship winners.

Several APTA business members are generously sponsoring this event. In the spirit of the Olympics, the Gold sponsor is Parsons Brinckerhoff, presenting the band. Other sponsors of the evening are Hatch Mott MacDonald and HDR Engineering Inc., Silver, and LTK Engineering Services, Bronze. Additional supporters are AECOM, Bombardier Transportation, and Clever Devices.

APTF is a 501c (3) non-profit organization providing scholarships to young professionals pursuing careers in public transportation. Proceeds from the Gala benefit the APTF scholarship fund. Contributions are fully tax-deductible to the extent allowable by the law.

Tickets are $100 person and available online. For further information, contact Yvette Conley.

TCRP Publications Available

The Transportation Research Board (TRB) recently released the following Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) publications:

Synthesis 99 – Uses of Social Media in Public Transportation. This synthesis documents successful practices in the U.S. and Canada.

Synthesis 100 – Elevator and Escalator Maintenance and Safety Practices. This synthesis documents elevator and escalator maintenance activities, safety practices, and passenger communication efforts gathered at five U.S. transit agencies:  the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority, MTA New York City Transit, Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, Chicago Transit Authority, and San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District.

Synthesis 101 – Implementation and Outcomes of Fare-Free Transit Systems. This synthesis highlights the experiences of public transit agencies that have planned, implemented, and operated fare-free transit systems. It focuses on agencies that are either direct recipients or sub-recipients of federal public transit grants and furnish fare-free services to everyone in a service area on every mode provided.

Research Results Digest 105 – Summary of Research Findings: Assessing and Comparing Environmental Performance of Major Transit Investments. This digest offers decision makers optional criteria, metrics, and methods to help assess the environmental performance of transit projects.

Report 151 – A Guide for Implementing Bus on Shoulder (BOS) Systems. This report provides guidelines for the planning, design, and implementation of BOS operations along urban freeways and major arterials.

Report 154 – Developing, Enhancing, and Sustaining Tribal Transit Services: A Guidebook. This report offers guidance about the various steps for planning and implementing a tribal transit system. The report provides an overview of the tribal transit planning process.

These reports are available by clicking here.

In addition, accompanying PowerPoint presentations are available through TRB for TCRP Reports 151 and 154.


KCATA Implements Gunshot Detection System in Partnership with Kansas City, MO, Police

The Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (KCATA) in Kansas City, MO, recently joined the Kansas City Police Department (KCPD) in deploying ShotSpotter, an acoustic technology that provides detailed information on gunshots fired.

KCATA was the lead agency in the planning and procurement of the ShotSpotter service for the KCPD. The public transit system is funding the project with $720,000 that became available when it completed its most recent Bus Rapid Transit project, the Troost MAX Green Line, under budget.

“We believe this is the first deployment in the country of ShotSpotter through this type of partnership,” said KCATA General Manager Mark Huffer. “We are pleased to partner with the city of Kansas City and the KCPD to play a role in elevating the level of safety to the community, as well as to our customers and employees.”

“ShotSpotter has the power to get officers to shooters and victims very quickly,” said KCPD Chief Darryl Forté. “I’ve done the research, and it’s a great crime-fighting tool. Even before I was chief, it was something I wished the Kansas City Police Department could have, but we never could identify a funding source for it.”

Implementation of the shot-detecting technology is part of an effort to support the city’s proactive policing strategies and deployments as part of an ongoing commitment to improve the safety, security, and quality of life for residents by ridding the city of gun crime and gun violence.

The gunfire data and intelligence provided by ShotSpotter Flex will be critical in supporting KCPD’s policing and enforcement efforts across all areas of their operations. Not only does it enable police to respond faster and more safely to gunfire incidents, but the solution also allows officers to proactively develop effective problem-oriented, data-drive policing strategies and tactical deployments.

As part of its comprehensive approach to resolving crime issues, the police department has collaborated with various entities including KCATA, the city, community organizations, and supporters, all working together to reduce gun violence and combat its negative impact to the community. KCPD will deploy the technology in areas with high incidents of gunfire.

MARTA Launches Customer Common Courtesy Initiative

The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) has launched a new initiative to help remind customers of common courtesy rules to follow while using public transportation. Its main objective is to raise awareness about the importance of treating everyone who uses MARTA with mutual respect and dignity.

The initiative aims to reinforce existing etiquette guidelines that, for example, prohibit playing loud music, ban panhandling, and reserve accessibility seating on trains and buses for elderly passengers and customers with disabilities—concerns identified through ongoing customer surveys.

Eye-catching signage in MARTA vehicles and stations will display such messages as:

* “Your music isn’t my music. Please use ear phones and keep the volume low.”

* “No they can’t spare a dollar. Don’t beg on MARTA.”

* “Talking loudly? Not cool. Please keep it down and use your ‘quiet voice.’”

* “Make Mom proud. Train crowded? Designated seats are for elderly and disabled.”

MARTA also plans to use viral videos and a video contest to help engage the public in reinforcing courtesy messages.

United Way Honors Palm Tran

The United Way of Palm Beach County, FL, recently honored Palm Tran as Most Improved Workplace during the 2011-2012 campaign. The agency increased employee participation in the drive by 69 percent and donations by 53 percent compared with the previous year.

Also, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1577, representing Palm Tran employees, received the Outstanding Labor Participation in a Workplace Campaign award for its efforts to increase employee participation.

In Cleveland, Free Trips Encourage Bicyclists to Ride Buses and Rail

Public transportation agencies understand the importance of other alternatives to the single-occupancy automobile, such as the bicycle. While bike racks are increasingly common on public transit buses, the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA) is taking the next step, inviting cyclists to ride free on specific occasions.

Most recently, GCRTA offered free rides on its buses and trains to bicyclists participating in Ride United, a one-day regional bike tour to benefit United Way of Greater Cleveland and United Way of Summit County, OH. Bicyclists collect donations and ride on one of five routes between Cleveland and Akron, ranging between 12 and 100 miles.

Mary Shaffer, media relations manager, GCRTA, noted that the authority has long worked with the local United Way. “This particular project,” she said, “started last year, when United Way contacted us about using the dedicated bike lanes on our HealthLine [Bus Rapid Transit route] as part of this event. We said of course, that’s why the lanes are there. We offered to help with the effort, notifying the public, assigning transit police to the route, and inviting participants to ride free.”

Shaffer emphasized the agency’s philosophy: “We told United Way that we’d really like to get these people on our buses and trains who may not be typical riders. This gives us the chance to form a partnership and introduce people to public transit.”

Although GCRTA had already offered free rides for bicyclists earlier in 2011—for Bike to Work Day in conjunction with the Northern Ohio Area Coordinating Agency—the United Way event was when “the wheels started rolling,” Shaffer said. The agency made the same offer for both events in 2012, reporting more than 150 bikes above the daily average for this year’s national Bike to Work Day.

LIRR Provides Online Ticket Sales for Service to Golf Tournament

For the first time, MTA Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) made available to customers the online purchase of tickets—specifically for service to The Barclays PGA Tour Event at Bethpage State Park in Farmingdale, NY, Aug. 21-26.

Through a partnership between LIRR and the technology firm CooCoo, LIRR passengers heading to the golf tournament could buy their train tickets online and either print them out or display their bar-coded tickets on a smartphone.

LIRR President Helena E. Williams explained: “This pilot program offers great customer convenience and allows the LIRR to test out the CooCoo technology during the six days of The Barclays event.”

Ryan Thompson, co-founder of CooCoo, said: “The Long Island Rail Road is at the forefront of the biggest change in transit technology in years. Consumers are demanding the convenience of purchasing tickets through mobile devices and on the web, and forward-looking mass transit operators are meeting that demand in creative ways like the PGA event.”

CooCoo has provided real-time train arrival and departure times via text message to LIRR riders since 2010.

Cincinnati Metro Transports Choir Members

Cincinnati Metro provided more than 58,000 rides to choir members and visitors during the 11-day World Choir Games hosted by the city in July. Many of the 15,000 participants in this Olympic-like event for choral music had never been to the U.S. before. The agency also expanded existing shuttle service downtown to connect performance venues and for the opening and closing ceremonies, and added service on routes to area attractions and shopping. Approximately 175 bus operators supported the additional service.

NCRTD Dedicates Transit Center in Memory of Jim West, Founding Member

The North Central Regional Transit District (NCRTD), Española, NM, recently dedicated its new headquarters in memory of Jim West, a founding member of the NCRTD Board of Directors in 2004 and its chairman from 2006 until his retirement in 2008 because of poor health.

West, who also was a county councilor for Los Alamos County, died in 2009.

The agency acquired the 12,500-square-foot building with American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding and a local Gross Receipts Tax. The total cost of the land and remodeling was $4 million.

NCRTD was the first Regional Transit District to be certified by the New Mexico Transportation Commission, in 2004, following passage of the Regional Transit District Act the previous year. It has 11 member entities:  Rio Arriba County, Santa Fe County, Taos County, Los Alamos County, City of Santa Fe, City of Española, Pueblo of Pojoaque, Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo, Tesuque Pueblo, San Ildefonso Pueblo, and Santa Clara Pueblo.


Cutting the ribbon at the Jim West Regional Transit Center are, front row from left, Mary Lou Valerio, transportation planner, Santa Clara Pueblo; Geoff Rogers, NCRTD board and Los Alamos County councilor; Pablo Sedillo, representing Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM); Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM); Val Boatman, sister of the late Jim West, the building’s namesake; NCRTD Board Chair Daniel Barrone, also a Taos County commissioner; Barney Trujillo, NCRTD board vice chair and Rio Arriba County commissioner; Mayor Alice Lucero, City of Española; Michele Jacquez-Ortiz, representing Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM); Michael Wismer, Los Alamos County councilor; and NCRTD Executive Director Anthony Mortillaro.


INIT Achieves ‘Zero Waste’ in Green Operation

After a year-long initiative to become a 100 percent green company, INIT (Innovations in Transportation Inc.) in Chesapeake, VA, received the Zero Waste to Landfill Certification from TFC Recycling, which collects, processes, and markets recyclable materials in Virginia and North Carolina and guided INIT during the process.

INIT’s efforts to attain the green initiative went beyond recycling and composting. TFC Recycling awarded the certificate to INIT because of its use of the “single stream” recycling process, which allows them to dispose of plastic, paper, and glass recyclables in one recycling container. Other initiatives included the installation of light and motion detectors and energy-efficient hand dryers, as well as placing recycling bins at each work station. Management even purchased two bikes for employees to use for errands around town.

AATA Approves Process to Create Countywide Public Transit Authority

The Ann Arbor Transportation Authority (AATA) in Ann Arbor, MI, has approved a four-party Public Transportation Agreement and Articles of Incorporation that will allow the agency to expand its services countywide. This action follows previous approvals from the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners and the city councils of Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti.

“Over the past year and a half, we have worked with local governments, the county, Ann Arbor, and Ypsilanti to develop a process to meet local and countywide transportation needs,” said AATA Board Chair Jesse Bernstein. “This is an exciting step: there is now a clear path for local governments to move forward to improve existing public transportation services in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti and to expand access to underserved areas of our county.”

Under the terms of the agreement, AATA must finalize a five-year transit program and publicize it throughout the county at public meetings. Then, the AATA board and representatives of other communities will request the county clerk to file incorporation papers to create a new authority.

To become operational, the new authority will need to request and receive voter approval of a funding mechanism to pay for services that the authority will provide.

The draft five-year program proposes extended and more frequent service in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti, as well as a combined, comprehensive system of fixed routes, expanded on-demand service, and regional connector routes outside the cities.

Once all of the steps outlined in the public transit agreement are completed, AATA’s assets and responsibilities would be transferred to the new public transit authority, which would be governed by a 15-member board. Ann Arbor would receive seven appointments to the board, with the other board members representing additional transit districts throughout Washtenaw County.

“Transportation needs do not start and stop at local municipal boundaries,” said AATA Chief Executive Officer Michael Ford. “The new countywide authority will be able to enhance public transportation options even further by taking into account the needs of all Washtenaw County communities.”

Ben Franklin Transit Receives LEED Gold Certification

Two of Ben Franklin Transit’s (BFT) facilities in Richland, WA, have received Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council: the new administration building and the remodel of the existing administration building into a new operations building.

The agency began construction of the two buildings in 2009 and completed them in 2011.

Integrus Architecture, MW Consulting Engineers, CH2M Hill, and SPVV Landscape Architects were all key contributors to the design and LEED® certification. American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding covered most construction costs.

The BFT administration building also received the Citation Award from the American Institute of Architects-Spokane Chapter. Design features include flexible open office space for staff and administration; a public entry and reception area and adjacent large conference meeting room; and a staff break room with a small kitchenette and outdoor patio area.

The LEED® certification process begins when the applicant submits project design and construction information to the USGBC, which rates the project based on energy efficiency, sustainable materials, water consumption, and other factors that may impact the environment. The BFT buildings achieved sustainable points in each of the six categories: sustainable sites; water efficiency; energy and atmosphere; materials and resources; indoor environmental quality; and innovation and design process.


Displaying their LEED Gold certificates are, from left, Jerry Winkler, principal, Integrus Architecture; Richard Ciccone, BFT project manager; Tim Fredrickson, BFT general manager; and Leo Bowman, Benton County commissioner and BFT board chair.


Omnitrans Unveils New Logo, Slogans, and Fleet Graphics

Omnitrans in San Bernardino, CA, unveiled its new logo, slogan, and fleet graphics at an Aug. 15 event at its main transfer center in downtown San Bernardino.

“The colors [on the bus exterior] symbolize our green earth and blue sky, reflecting Omnitrans’ commitment to the environment, and air quality in particular, with our 100 percent natural gas-powered fleet,” said Chief Executive Officer/General Manager Milo Victoria. “But my favorite part of Omnitrans’ new look is our tagline: ‘Connecting our Community.’ This is our purpose: to connect all members of the community—from students, to mothers, to commuters, to persons with disabilities and senior citizens—with the places they need to go to live their lives as they choose.”

The agency’s website also has undergone a makeover. Smart phone and tablet users can now instantly access maps and schedule information without cumbersome downloads or continuous scrolling. Major news and updates receive prominent placement, while the trip planner appears on every page. Fare information is available at the touch of a button and riders can purchase passes online.

The new logo and color scheme—including an updated version of “Buster,” the Omnitrans mascot—replace designs developed in 1985.


Omnitrans CEO/General Manager Milo Victoria displays the agency’s new bus fleet graphics and color scheme.



Implementing MAP-21: Public Transit Agencies and Riders Must Be at the Table

BY DERON LOVAAS, Federal Transportation Policy Director, Natural Resources Defense Council, Washington, DC

This summer’s Congressional debate signaled a different era for public transportation policy. The House of Representatives threatened to take the Mass Transit Account out of the Highway Trust Fund for the first time in its 30-year history. This would have ended dedicated support for public transit systems across the country. Thankfully, bipartisan pressure—especially in the suburbs of Chicago, New York, and Philadelphia—killed this terrible idea. However, the whole fight signaled a new era for public transit investment.

Public transit agencies and riders need to keep this in mind and engage aggressively in the law’s implementation.

One small victory in the law is that transit providers are given an official seat at Metropolitan Planning Organization planning tables, which is a good thing because the motto for public transit agencies in this new law might as well be: “If you’re not on the table, you might be on the menu.”

For example, the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) program was created as a complement to the 1990 Clean Air Act amendments to fund pollution- and congestion-reducing projects. Much of this large program is devoted to transit projects (more than 40 percent of the total in its first 10 years). Under the new transportation law, up to one-half of the funding can be “flexed” to projects that could exacerbate air quality and traffic congestion: for example, siphoning money for costly, sprawl-inducing highway projects. As public transit agencies and fans, we must make our case for this funding early and often now that it can be diverted.

One possible cost-effective use for CMAQ funding is construction and expansion of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) service. As Governing magazine notes this month, such projects are moving in a host of places including Connecticut, Florida, and right next door to me in Montgomery County, MD.

A sterling example of BRT is Cleveland’s seven-mile line, built in 2008 at the cost of $200 million. While this initial construction did not use CMAQ dollars, in 2010 the transit agency did invest $5 million from CMAQ funds in the system. Public transit agencies across the country should look to CMAQ to fund BRT given possible air quality and congestion benefits as well as cost-effectiveness.

We must also be at the table when transportation officials define “cost-effectiveness” itself and when larger metro areas (one million or more) develop “performance plans” for CMAQ investments. This is especially important given a new, trenchant critique of an old-school technique for assessing travel efficiency—most famously embodied by the Texas Transportation Institute’s annual ranking of cities based on traffic conditions.

Economist Joe Cortright found that such assessments rate travel conditions based on average time in congestion as opposed to the more thorough and accurate average of total travel time. This can yield bizarre outcomes. For example, Chicago, with its total average commute travel time of just 32.6 minutes, rates more poorly than Charlotte with 48 minutes.

Since time is what we value, that’s what we should measure. Less travel time is due in part to better land use, and distance and total time should be taken into account when determining project performance and cost-effectiveness.

Another activity that public transit leaders should drive is the establishment of performance measures for transportation programs. These will be developed nationally within one year by DOT; then transit agencies have three months to design measures aligned with them.

Performance management—transitioning to a “performance-driven” national transportation program as the Bipartisan Policy Center advocates—is a great idea whose time is coming. It’s not here yet, sadly. The performance measures that this bill requires from federal, state, and regional institutions aren’t connected to actual project funding and so don’t vertically align investments from long-range plans to where the rubber hits the road with performance metrics.

The measures aren’t very broad either, since the most thorough requirements cover system conditions and safety and not air quality or economic competitiveness. However, they could be a good start, but only if transit agencies help to shape them at the national, state, regional, and agency levels.

Last but not least, the bill offers a big opportunity for innovative transit financing. A new “America Fast Forward” initiative increases money for federal loans several-fold, largely due to the successful advocacy of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa of Los Angeles to help fund the landmark 30-10 plan in southern California, which aims to frontload 30 years worth of public transportation expansion into just a decade.

Congress saw fit to eliminate several performance criteria and “first come, first served” is certain to be key to determining recipients, so public transit agencies should move fast. And if APTA members want to influence the overall program’s direction, the fuse is even shorter for that: comments are due into DOT by Sept. 1!

The program has also been changed so a loan can cover nearly one-half of project costs, and it allows private funding as part of repayment, which should spur agencies to capture more of the private value due to service extensions. We have a prime example of such innovative financing here in D.C.: Private businesses chipped in several million dollars for the construction of the new New York Avenue Station on the Washington Metro system.

The takeaway? Readers should rush to the table and drive MAP-21 implementation to secure public transportation’s future. Let’s get to work.


Who's Doing What in the Industry

Douglas W. Fuller, Robert R. Harper Jr., Charles B. Hunter, James P. Toscano
NORFOLK, VA—Hampton Roads Transit has named four new members of its governing board. Their appointments reflect changes made by the Virginia General Assembly when it amended the law that determines the composition of the agency’s board, decreasing the number of members from 17 to 13 and including citizen representatives appointed by the governor.

The new members are Douglas W. Fuller of Chesapeake, principal and chief financial officer of Precon Marine Inc.; Robert R. Harper Jr. of Hampton, owner and chief photographer of Bob Harper Photography; Charles B. Hunter of Portsmouth, business banker at Townebank; and James P. Toscano of Norfolk, vice president of institutional advancement at Tidewater Community College.

Terry A. Ruhl, Alonzo L. Fulgham
DENVER, CO—CH2M HILL announced the appointments of Terry A. Ruhl, P.E., F. ASCE, as president of the firm’s transportation business and Alonzo L. Fulgham as vice president, strategy and sustainable international development, in the Environmental Services Business Group.

Ruhl is a 19-year veteran of CH2M HILL. He previously served as senior vice president and director of consulting and international operations for the company’s Transportation Business Group, leading the Aviation, Highway and Bridge, Ports and Maritime, and Transit and Rail consulting practices. From 2006 to 2009, he led the firm’s aviation market segment.

Fulgham joins the company after more than 20 years with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) where, after serving as chief operating officer, he was appointed acting administrator by President Obama in January 2009. Following USAID, Fulgham joined International Relief and Development as vice president.

Kerby Long, Bill Grella, Todd Wysocki
RIDGEFIELD PARK, NJ—Samsung Techwin America has announced the appointments of three new regional sales managers: Kerby Long, Northeast Region; Bill Grella, Southeast Region; and Todd Wysocki, Central Region.

Long has several years of sales/account management expertise with Sony, JVC, and Indigo Vision.

Grella joins Samsung from Vicon, where he was a sales representative.

Wysocki worked most recently with Intransa and previously with Interlogix.
Robert J. Vensas
GRAND RAPIDS, MI—Robert J. Vensas, P.E., a 39-year employee of URS Corporation, has been promoted to vice president and office manager for the company’s Infrastructure & Environment Division operations in Michigan.

Vensas was the company’s vice president of operations in Michigan for the past 20 years. His other jobs with URS include project engineer, project manager, and manager of engineering.

Jim Robinson, Jonathan Robison, Beth Kuntz
PITTSBURGH, PA—The Allegheny County Transit Council (ACTC), the official voice of Port Authority of Allegheny County customers, recently re-elected Jim Robinson its president.

ACTC also elected Jonathan Robison as vice president and, returning as treasurer, Beth Kuntz.

Patrick Scully
SCHAUMBURG, IL—Patrick Scully has joined Motor Coach Industries (MCI) as vice president of public sector sales and marketing. The move follows MCI’s recent acquisition of the U.S. and Canadian distribution rights for Setra motor coaches from Daimler Bus, where Scully was formerly chief commercial officer.

Scully began his career in the bus business in 1988 as a sales representative in the service parts development of Ontario Bus Industries (later acquired by Daimler Bus). He transitioned to the bus sales team at Orion in 1991, becoming general sales manager in 1993.

Scully joined Detroit Diesel Corporation in 1994, soon becoming vice president of worldwide bus and coach sales. When Detroit Diesel was sold to Daimler in 2001, he joined its Setra division and assumed full responsibility for the organization’s North American sales, service, and parts operations as chief commercial officer.

Robert S. Yirigian
GLASTONBURY, CT—Robert S. Yirigian has been named an assistant vice president and senior engineering manager in the Glastonbury office of Parsons Brinckerhoff (PB). He is responsible for managing PB’s program management contract for Connecticut DOT’s New Haven-Hartford-Springfield High-Speed Rail program.

Yirigian has more than 25 years of experience, primarily working on transportation projects throughout the northeast. Prior to joining PB, he was an associate vice president with a national engineering consulting firm.

Michael Hennessy
GREENVILLE, SC—Proterra welcomes Michael Hennessy as its new regional sales director.

Hennessy has 40 years of experience in the transportation industry, both in the public and private sectors. He spent 29 years at the Chicago Transit Authority, working in several senior-level positions including superintendent of maintenance and general manager of bus garage operations, and most recently was vice president of government sales for The Vehicle Production Group.

For APTA, Hennessy chairs the International Bus Roadeo Committee and is a member of the Access Committee; Bus & Paratransit Conference Planning Subcommittee; Bus Safety Committee; Bus Technical Maintenance Committee; Clean Propulsion & Support Technology Committee; and Older Adult Transportation Subcommittee.

Joe Calabrese
CLEVELAND, OH—Joe Calabrese, general manager of the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority, recently received the Sen. George V. Voinovich Public Works Employee of the Year Award from the Build Up Greater Cleveland (BUGC) organization. He earned recognition for his work on the Euclid Corridor project, which became the HealthLine Bus Rapid Transit line, and the agency’s efforts to educate area residents about the importance of public transportation.

Calabrese is the third winner of this award, created by BUGC in honor of the former senator and his service to the area.

Mary King
OAKLAND, CA—The San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District Board of Directors appointed Mary King to fill a vacancy on the board until an elected director is seated on Dec. 7. She succeeds Bob Franklin, who stepped down from the board to accept a position at BART as department manager of customer access.

King, a former interim general manager of AC Transit in Oakland, is the first African- American woman to be elected as an Alameda County supervisor. She also was a member of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

She will represent District 3, which lies in Alameda and Contra Costa counties.

Dr. Barbara K. Gannon
WASHINGTON, DC—Dr. Barbara K. Gannon, executive vice president and executive director of the Eno Center for Transportation Leadership (CTL), will step down from her full-time position effective Oct. 1 to return to her leadership consultation practice. She will continue to be involved in the delivery of Eno courses as a teacher, facilitator, and consultant.

Lindsey Robertson, currently director of CTL, will assume many of Gannon’s responsibilities. Robertson has been developing, coordinating, and delivering Eno courses under Gannon’s guidance for the past five years.

Paul E. Davis, Robert Patrick
HUNTINGTON, WV—The West Virginia Division of Public Transit recognized Paul E. Davis, general manager and chief executive officer of the Tri-State Transit Authority (TTA), as its 2011 Transit Manager of the Year.

The division honored Davis for his “renowned leadership, unwavering support and dedication to public transit in West Virginia,” including 24 years with TTA.

Robert Patrick, a TTA mechanic for 22 years, received recognition as the statewide Transit Mechanic of the Year.

Paul Skoutelas
NEW YORK, NY—Paul Skoutelas, a seven-year employee of Parsons Brinckerhoff (PB), has been appointed director of its Transit & Rail Technical Excellence Center (TEC). He also continues to serve as the firm’s transit and rail market leader.

A PB senior vice president, Skoutelas joined the company after serving as chief executive officer at tthe Port Authority of Allegheny County in Pittsburgh and the Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority (LYNX) in Orlando.

He is a business member director on the APTA Board of Directors and a member of the Business Member Board of Governors, Meeting Site Selection Committee, Marketing-Authorization Task Force, Public-Private Partnerships Committee, and High-Speed & Intercity Passenger Rail Committee. Skoutelas also has been active in the Transportation Research Board, the National Transit Institute, and the Pennsylvania Transportation Institute.

Kris Bauman
NEW YORK, NY—Sam Schwartz Engineering, PLLC, announced that Kris Bauman has joined the firm as executive vice president and chief operating officer.

Bauman has more than 30 years of construction and real estate experience. He was formerly president of Bauman Company LLC, Newtown, PA, and senior vice president of development at the Gale Real Estate Services Company, Roseland, NJ.

Steve Predmore
DALLAS, TX--MV Transportation Inc. has named Steve Predmore senior vice president of safety, based at corporate headquarters in Dallas.

Predmore joins MV from JetBlue Airways, where he was chief safety officer. His more than 20-year career also included serving as director of safety performance and quality for Delta Airlines and as a researcher for the National Transportation Safety Board.