Passenger Transport - September 7, 2012
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BREAKING NEWS

APTA Elects Castillo as Chair, Varga as Vice Chair

APTA members today elected Flora M. Castillo, a board member for New Jersey Transit Corporation, Newark, NJ, as the association’s 2012-2013 chair during its virtual Annual Business Meeting and Election. She previously served as APTA vice chair.

Also elected were Peter Varga, chief executive officer, Interurban Transit Partnership (The Rapid), Grand Rapids, MI, vice chair, and Doran J. Barnes, executive director, Foothill Transit, West Covina, CA, secretary-treasurer.

All the newly elected members will formally assume their responsibilities Sept. 29 at the next meeting of the APTA Board of Directors, just prior to the 2012 APTA Annual Meeting in Seattle.

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

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

APTA business member representatives elected to the board are Jeff Boothe, partner, Holland & Knight LLP, Washington, DC; Maryanne Roberts, senior advisor, communications and public affairs, U.S., Bombardier Transportation, Horsham, PA; and Al Engel, principal, Al Engel Consulting, Telford, PA.

 

 

 

NEWS HEADLINES

San Diego MTS Extends Green Line Through Downtown

The San Diego Trolley introduced Green Line service through downtown San Diego—past the San Diego Convention Center and Petco Park to the 12th and Imperial Transit Center—on Sept. 2. The Green Line previously terminated at the Old Town Transit Center.

In advance of the opening, the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) and San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) held a dedication ceremony Aug. 30 at the renovated Gaslamp Quarter Trolley Station. Participants included San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders; MTS Chair Harry Mathis; SANDAG Chair and Encinitas Mayor Jerome Stocks; MTS Vice Chair and County Supervisor Ron Roberts; and Leslie Rogers, FTA Region 9 administrator.

The opening of the Green Line extension marks a major milestone in the $720 million Trolley Renewal project currently under construction by MTS and SANDAG. The project began in fall 2010 and is scheduled to be completed in 2015.

“With the Green Line coming downtown, people all over San Diego can now reach the downtown area more conveniently,” Mathis said.“This event also marks about the halfway point in a major reinvestment of our trolley infrastructure, which will bring low floor cars and modern stations to our entire trolley network.”

The extension provides direct service from Santee, El Cajon, La Mesa, San Diego State University, and Mission Valley to downtown San Diego without the need to transfer. Trips through downtown will be six minutes faster than before for people who transfer to and from the Green Line at 12th and Imperial, and trips from Euclid Avenue to Old Town will be nine minutes faster. Trips from Mission Valley to Petco Park/Gaslamp Quarter will be 12 minutes faster, with two transfers eliminated.

“The Trolley Renewal project reflects SANDAG’s deep commitment to making transit an attractive alternative to driving alone,” said Stocks. “Not only is this project producing enormous benefits for riders, it also is giving a major boost to the local economy. Overall, Trolley Renewal is expected to create 8,640 jobs directly and indirectly in the region. Many of the contractors currently working on the project are based in San Diego County.”

The project will add 65 low floor trolley cars to the trolley fleet, providing nearly level boarding and eliminating the need for mechanical lifts. The San Diego Trolley already operates 11 low floor vehicles. The new vehicles will enter Orange Line service in spring 2013 and Blue Line service in summer 2014.

The system-wide overhaul also includes raising 35 station platforms to accommodate the low floor vehicles; replacing outdated rail and overhead wires; and improving street crossings, switching, and signaling. New shelters, closed circuit television, next-arrival signage, enhanced lighting, and a smoother ride will improve the customer experience on the Blue and Orange lines. In addition, the project will expand freight capacity between downtown San Diego and the border area.

So far, MTS has renovated and reopened five stations: Civic Center, Convention Center, Gaslamp Quarter, Middletown, and Washington Street. All stations on the Green Line extension are expected to be substantially complete by October 2012, followed by all Orange Line stations in March 2013.

Funding for Trolley Renewal comes from a variety of sources including TransNet, the regional half-cent sales tax for transportation; California Proposition 1B and 1A bond money; and the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act.

 

Welcoming the San Diego Trolley’s Green Line extension through downtown San Diego are, from left, Paul Jablonski, chief executive officer, San Diego MTS; San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders; FTA Region 9 Administrator Leslie Rogers; and SANDAG Chair Jerome Stocks. 

 

Public Transit Joins Discussion on Public Safety Broadband Network

Barry Einsig, chair of the Joint Council on Transit Wireless Communications, represented APTA at an Aug. 30 meeting of the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network Subcommittee of the President’s National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee (NSTAC). Einsig presented the public transit perspective, related to agencies’ unique needs for an enhanced communications system, potential assets for building a new network, and role as regional first responders.

On Feb. 22, President Obama signed P.L. 112-96, the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012. While this act focuses mostly on taxes, unemployment compensation, and Medicare policy, it also establishes a National Public Safety Broadband Network (NPSBN) solely for emergency responders. Specifically, it reallocates a unique portion of broadband spectrum known as the “D-block” for wireless communications among public safety personnel.

The traditional public safety community (police, fire, and EMS) supported a national, interoperable communications network for years, and their support intensified following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Today, public transit agency public safety personnel (i.e., transit police and emergency management personnel) exist as an integral part of the first responder community and joined advocacy efforts to create a NPSBN.

The bill initially narrowed the definition of “public safety provider,” which excluded public transit; in other words, agency public safety personnel would not be eligible to access the new wireless network. APTA and its partners successfully lobbied Congress to expand the definition to include transit police and related personnel.

The act also provides $7 billion in grants to assist local entities with costs related to the buildout of the network and creates the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet). FirstNet will serve as an independent authority within the National Telecommunications and Information Administration charged with all responsibilities related to the construction, deployment, and operation of the new broadband network in consultation with federal, state, and local government stakeholders. NSTAC will also partner with FirstNet and the public safety community to roll out the new communications network.

Through the Joint Council, APTA will remain involved with the NSTAC and its activities to involve NPSBN stakeholders. To supplement this, APTA will continue to highlight this issue to its members and promote their involvement.

Counting Down to the 2012 APTA Annual Meeting

The 2012 APTA Annual Meeting in Seattle is only 20 days away! Plan to join your colleagues in Seattle for a full schedule of educational sessions, networking opportunities, and technical tours.

The Oct. 1 Opening General Session will showcase the insights of Alan S. Boyd, the first secretary of U.S. DOT. Boyd served under President Lyndon B. Johnson from the establishment of the department in 1967 until 1969. He will talk about his efforts in setting up a new Cabinet department and his views on the public transportation industry today.

During Boyd’s tenure, DOT’s purview came to include the new Urban Mass Transportation Administration (now FTA), Federal Railroad Administration, and Federal Highway Administration, and the renamed Federal Aviation Administration. He also helped to establish the National Transportation Safety Board.

Annual Meeting attendees will hear from FTA Administrator Peter M. Rogoff at two sessions. In addition to his remarks at the Opening General Session, he will join FTA Deputy Administrator Therese McMillan for an Oct. 2 General Forum, “Federal Transit Administration Priorities and Update.”  This program will cover challenges facing the agency and industry, as well as offer a perspective on the implementation of the public transit provisions of Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century.

Other prominent speakers on the Annual Meeting schedule include Martha Choe, chief administrative officer, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, who will address the Oct. 3 APTA/WTS breakfast session, “Powerful Women: Reflections of Power, Leadership, and Effecting Change”; Brian Ferris, Ph.D., a software engineer with Google Transit in Zurich, Switzerland, part of the Tuesday morning Host Session, “Customer Information Technology Round Table”; and two representatives of Microsoft: DeLee Shoemaker, senior director, state government affairs, at the Monday morning Host Forum, “Partnership Strategy Moves Puget Sound Region Toward its Vision,” and T.J. DiCaprio, senior director, carbon and energy, worldwide environmental sustainability, at “What Leadership in Sustainability Means to the Transit Industry” on Tuesday morning.

Register now to attend the APTA Annual Meeting! Find information here.

CUTA Leaders Visit APTA Counterparts


Photo by Mitch Wood

Senior leaders of the Canadian Urban Transit Association (CUTA) recently came to Washington to meet with their APTA counterparts on major issues facing their associations and the public transportation industry in North America. Topics included governance; legislative and regulatory issues; advocacy strategy; standards; mobility management; workforce development; sustainability; and research. APTA and CUTA senior leadership meet to exchange information every one to two years. In the photo above, from left: front row, APTA representatives Rosemary Sheridan, vice president-communications and marketing; Kathryn D. Waters, vice president-member services; Karen Harvey, director-human resources; Pamela L. Boswell, vice president-program management and educational services; Mary Childress, vice president-finance; and Petra Mollet, chief of staff; back row: James LaRusch, APTA chief counsel and vice president-corporate affairs; Arthur Guzzetti, APTA vice president-policy; Michael Roschlau, CUTA president & CEO; Raymond Bédard, CUTA director, training and membership development; Patrick LeClerc, CUTA director, marketing and public affairs; Jean Paré, CUTA director, research and technical services; Robert Healy, vice president-government affairs; and Maureen Shuell, CUTA director, events and publications.

St. Louis Metro Marks Opening of Bridge, Public Transit Plaza

St. Louis Metro marked the opening of the Grand Bridge, replacing the former Grand Avenue Viaduct, and of the Metro Scott Avenue Transit Plaza at ceremonies Aug. 25. Both projects received federal funding to cover 80 percent of their costs—$22 million for the bridge, $7 million for the public transit plaza—with a local match covering the balance.

“Metro’s buses travel over more than 500 square miles and the bridge on Grand is one of our most heavily traveled. The Grand MetroBus route is the busiest route on our entire system. with customers taking about three million trips a year on Grand Boulevard,” said John M. Nations, Metro president and chief executive officer. “Together, the city of St. Louis and Metro Transit have made a significant contribution to the city’s infrastructure by improvements to both the bridge and the transit plaza on Scott Avenue below.”

The new bridge is 16 feet wider than its predecessor and features two lanes in each direction, separated by a raised center median; wider multi-use shoulders; and 13-foot-wide sidewalks in each direction. It also features 150-foot-long, 10-foot-wide turnouts for Metro buses to board passengers above the new Scott Avenue Transit Plaza and Grand MetroLink Station.

The MetroBus areas on the bridge feature new seating in large wind and rain bus shelters, improved lighting, and new elevators and stairs connecting the bridge to the Grand MetroLink Station, the new plaza, and a new 58-space free park-and-ride lot. The plaza also features a sculpture by Barbara Grygutis.

“Today we celebrate the reconnection of north and south Grand,” said St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay. “This was a major infrastructure project designed to better connect our city’s north and south sides for drivers, pedestrians, and those who use public transportation. This bridge has the capacity for increased traffic and will be more comfortable and attractive for all its users.”

 

Speakers at dedication ceremonies for St. Louis’ new Grand Bridge and Metro Scott Avenue Transit Plaza include, from left, Dr. Albert Walker, president, Harris-Stowe State University; Vincent C. Schoemehl Jr., president and chief executive officer, Grand Center; St. Louis Mayor Francis G. Slay; John M. Nations, Metro president and chief executive officer; Lawrence Biondi, S.J., president, Saint Louis University; and Ward 19 Alderwoman Marlene Davis. The ceremony took place on the bridge roadway on the south end of the bridge near Chouteau Avenue; bus bays are located in the middle of the bridge.

 

Mattei Acquires Transit Engineering Services

Mattei Compressors Inc., Randallstown, MD, has acquired 100 percent of the stock of Transit Engineering Services (TES), a packager of onboard air compressors for metro, subway, light rail, and people mover applications for more than 15 years. The company will now operate as Mattei Transit Engineering (MTE) and has relocated into Mattei’s facilities.

Jay R. Hedges, general manager, Mattei, said: “Public transit is a growing need throughout North America and the world as urban area populations increasingly turn to public transportation to reduce traffic congestion and improve the environment. We will continue to build on our strong alliances with the rail and people mover segments while expanding into electric and hybrid buses, trucks, and locomotive applications.”

Ecosystem Management & Associates Now Part of HDR

HDR Engineering Inc. has purchased the assets of Ecosystem Management & Associates Inc. (EM&A), a woman-owned firm based in Lusby, MD. Going forward, EM&A staff will do business as part of HDR Engineering Inc. and HDR Environmental, Operations, and Construction Inc.

EM&A provides environmental services to global clients, such as coastal zone management, military range sustainability, pollution studies and management, environmental conflict resolution, and environmental outreach.

“We got to know EM&A through working for our mutual clients, and were impressed enough to want them to join the HDR family,” said Eric Keen, president, HDR Engineering Inc. “They have a top-notch professional team and will make a great addition to HDR.”

EM&A President Gina Coelho added: “EM&A is excited to join HDR. The resulting synergy will enable us to provide broader multi-disciplinary support to our clients, and will provide our staff with new and diverse opportunities for professional growth.”

HART Carries GOP Delegates


Participants in the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa, FL, ride a Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART) bus. HART accommodated thousands of visitors during the last week of August, providing additional service on all bus routes and the TECO Line Streetcar. Because of road closures and detours around the meeting site, the agency made temporary changes to some bus routes.

APTA MEMBER PROFILE

Meet Jennifer Mitchell!

Jennifer Mitchell
Principal Consultant, Strategic Consulting
Parsons Brinckerhoff
Washington, DC
Leadership APTA Class of 2012

How many people does your business employ?
Parsons Brinckerhoff has about 14,000 employees worldwide. The strategic consulting practice I’m in has about 75 people. I think we have the most people in Washington, but they’re also in New York, Denver, Seattle, and a few other offices around the country.

How long have you worked in the public transportation industry?
I’ve been working in transportation for my entire career, about 18 years, but exclusively in public transportation for the past 10 years.

How long have you been an APTA member?
About eight years.

What drew you to a career in public transportation?
I worked on public transit through my entire career, but I’ve also worked on port and highway projects, toll roads, airports, and in other modes.

I grew up in Northern Virginia, so I always knew how important Metro was to the region. I decided to study urban planning in college, at the University of Virginia. I always had an interest in transportation. I was also really interested in planning and urban development, but once I realized how much of that is driven by transportation, particularly public transportation, I was hooked. After graduate school at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, I went into consulting and began working on public transit projects, as well as a lot of other things.

I’ve always worked with the economic and financial aspects of transportation projects. Eventually I started working on the consultant team that was doing the environmental analysis for the Dulles Corridor Metrorail project. I got recruited by my client to join them at the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation. The project then was transferred to the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. I was there for about six years, then left to join PB and have been working exclusively in public transit since.

I work mostly on big New Starts projects: Honolulu rail, the West Side subway extension in Los Angeles, San Diego’s Mid-Coast Light Rail project, and I work on some projects here in the D.C. area.

We go on site to these projects, usually to meet with senior leaders in the agency to discuss the financial plan. We might help them prepare analyses they can use with their board of directors or state legislators, or advise people through the FTA process. A lot of what I do is FTA-related.

What have you found to be the most valuable APTA benefit or resource – that helps you do your job?
Definitely, right now, it’s being in Leadership APTA. It’s been a tremendous opportunity. It’s really helped me to understand a lot more about the public transit industry that I don’t get exposed to on a day-to-day basis.

Please explain why or how this has helped.
It’s given me the opportunity to learn about a lot of aspects of the industry: labor negotiations, maintenance, human resource issues, operations. Because I tend to work on big projects and especially on the planning and financial aspects, I don’t always see how the agencies deliver service. It’s been a great opportunity for me.

What do you like most about your job?
I get to help put funding strategies together for major transit projects. That’s usually a very critical phase of a project’s development. All the projects I’m working on are big and have complicated issues; they also tend to be very controversial. Those are the most fun to work on: they’re difficult, but they’re very rewarding. You know you’re helping the agency through its major concerns.

I have to travel a lot for work. Fortunately, I have a really good team that can take care of some of that travel. We can do some work remotely, but it’s good to work directly with clients because that’s how we understand what’s happening on the ground.

What is unique about your business?
I think a lot of people aren’t that familiar with PB’s strategic consulting process. We provide advisory services, financial planning, economic analysis, public-private partnerships, policy development, and strategic planning. For me, I really enjoy getting involved in both the strategic and the technical aspects of a project; we tend to work with senior leadership at the client agency.

We’re somewhat of an unusual practice for an engineering firm to have. We’re very highly specialized and tend to add a lot of value to PB’s clients and projects, helping them get through their biggest implementation challenges.

We’re really a small group, only 75 people within PB, but we have a national practice that works on projects around the U.S. It’s unusual for a big firm to have a group like us.

Aside from work, I serve on the Alexandria, VA, Transportation Commission. It’s interesting for me to be involved as a decision maker. I’m also the secretary for the international board of directors for WTS.

Make sure you see Jennifer Mitchell’s video, now that you've read this!

MEET THE APTA STAFF

Meet Helene Brett!

Helene Brett
Director-Membership
Member Services

What are your primary job responsibilities?
The major part of my job is membership recruitment and retention.

APTA uses many different methods of recruitment. For example, some are spontaneous: say, a company may want to exhibit at an APTA conference and becomes interested in joining.

We mine information from various sources, such as conferences attended by APTA staff members; non-members who exhibit at EXPO; referrals from members and from our staff as they travel; reviewing trade publications; and monitoring advertisements and obtaining registration lists from industry events. We keep our eyes open for prospects and constantly review the information resources that cross our desks.

We’ve done broad outreach to the APTA membership, such as member-get-a-member campaigns: they talk to their contractors and industry colleagues in the field.

As far as member retention: I work with our members on any aspect of their membership from questions about dues to benefits to how they can get involved in APTA committees or access information available on the website.

With public transit agencies that join APTA, the process is about helping them understand how the association supports the industry’s critical activities such as monitoring and influencing legislation, standards development, regulatory issues, and best practices in operations.

I really serve our members as their liaison, their advocate, with the organization. If any questions come up about their involvement, I’m the point person for them to start with.

Customer service is very important in this process. I want to make sure that our members get what they need in a timely and responsive manner. We want to meet—and exceed—their expectations.

How did you “land” at APTA? How long have you worked here?
I answered an ad in The Washington Post. The job matched my prior experience and was a good fit. I will have worked with APTA for 33 years in December.

Tell us about some of your recent interactions with APTA members.
It’s always exciting to talk to organizations that aren’t familiar with what we do and demonstrate to them the value of APTA membership, what they can gain by joining. I can hear their growing excitement as we talk and interest in the benefits I’m explaining.

Examples of recent interactions with members include conversations on how to determine what their dues are based on and how to compute the specific amount, and how they can establish their passwords to gain access to APTA web resources. More complicated discussions occur when an organization is acquired or merges with another member company. These situations affect the way an organization’s dues will be computed in the future as well as how the corporate structure is presented in APTA’s database records. I often assist new members who want to register for an upcoming conference but have questions about the entire registration process, including how to showcase their products.

What initiatives, projects, or programs have you worked on at APTA that you have taken particular pride in completing?
 I’ve been involved in every APTA database conversion through the years, from the initial IBM software selection up to what we’re using now, and I’ve seen how these changes have expanded our members’ ability to learn, communicate, and share information with each other.

I’m particularly proud of the online member directory. It allows APTA members to easily access contact information about member organizations and their staff and ensures that the information is as current as possible. In contrast, the old printed directory would become out of date quickly and did not reflect new members who joined throughout the year.

APTA’s online Buyers’ Guide is another very valuable resource that benefits our members every day, giving them broad exposure. While anyone—not just APTA members—can refer to it and access the members with their specialty products/services listed there, only members can appear in the guide.

Over the years I’ve worked with the Member Services Committee to develop a mentoring program for new APTA members. This is a tremendous opportunity for our more seasoned members to collaborate and share a wealth of information with new, incoming members.

What professional affiliations do you have?
American Society of Association Executives.

Could you tell us something about yourself that might surprise us?
My first love is historic architecture. I worked at the National Trust for Historic Preservation just after I graduated from college. I love classical music—I play piano. And I am a proud grandparent raising my 9-year-old granddaughter.

Make sure you see Helene Brett's video, now that you've read this!

APTA NEWS

Melaniphy Addresses Volpe Center


Photo by Martin Schroeder

APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy recently made a presentation on the state of the public transportation industry at DOT’s Volpe National Transportation Systems Center in Cambridge, MA. His topics included the role of APTA in standards development; the interaction between the association’s public transportation agency and business members; and reasons behind the current growth in public transit ridership. He also toured Volpe’s Human Factors Laboratory, where he wore an instrumented headset to record head movement while demonstrating a locomotive operator simulator.

 

APTF Scholarship Awards Program: Harness the Change

In today’s ever-changing economy, the task of growing a talented and dedicated workforce is more challenging than ever in the public transit industry. The American Public Transportation Foundation (APTF) is working to meet that challenge in part by bringing together the industry’s emerging leaders—its 2012 scholarship recipients.

As more Baby Boomers retire, the industry must focus on increasing younger people’s interest in public transportation careers. To gain some perspective on the most effective approaches to convince students to work in public transit, attend the Oct. 1 session at the APTA Annual Meeting where the 2012 APTF scholarship winners will speak.

These bright young students come from various parts of the country and from different backgrounds, but they all share a common passion—public transportation. So join us and hear from some of those recipients who will share their journey into the public transit industry and inform us about cutting-edge research and technologies they are developing. They will also describe their ideas on how to recruit and orient young professionals into fulfilling public transit careers.

New TCRP Publications Out Now

The Transportation Research Board recently released the following Transit Cooperative Research Program publications:

Report 155: Track Design Handbook for Light Rail Transit, Second Edition. This report provides guidelines and descriptions for the design of various common types of light rail transit track. These include ballasted track, direct fixation (“ballastless”) track, and embedded track.

Report 156: Guidebook for Evaluating Fuel Purchasing Strategies for Public Transit Agencies. This report is designed to help identify and evaluate risks and uncertainties with respect to fuel prices. It describes tools and techniques for minimizing the impact of fuel price uncertainties over time, such as the concept of fuel price risk management.

Report 95, Chapter 16: Traveler Response to Transportation System Changes Handbook, Third Edition; Chapter 16, Pedestrian and Bicycle Facilities. This report examines pedestrian and bicyclist behavior and travel demand outcomes in a relatively broad sense. It covers traveler response to non-motorized transportation facilities both in isolation and as part of the total urban fabric, along with the effects of associated programs and promotion. Complementing the report are illustrative photographs provided as a “Photo Gallery” at the conclusion of the report; PowerPoint slides are available for download.

LRD-40: Issues Involving Surety for Public Transportation Projects. This digest reviews applicable federal law, provides examples of state and local laws, and highlights industry practices related to surety.

Copies of these reports are available online.

AROUND THE INDUSTRY

Sound Transit Wins State Award from Department of Ecology

The Washington State Department of Ecology has presented Sound Transit in Seattle with its highest honor—the Environmental Excellence Award—for the agency’s role in a unique estuary-restoration project near Marysville.

“Sound Transit found a tremendous opportunity to amplify a required environmental offset,” said Jeannie Summerhays, regional director for the department’s Bellevue office. “The agency went well beyond the normal scope of project mitigation to solve some challenges that enabled the Qwuloolt estuary project to move forward.”

The Qwuloolt (Kwoo-LOOLT) project will restore about 380 acres of unused farmland into a salt marsh, the land’s original condition. The project will re-establish an important salmon habitat and aid in the recovery of Puget Sound. Several government agencies, coordinated by the Tulalip Tribes of Washington, have purchased land parcels and secured most of the funding needed to begin the $11 million project.

According to the department, land acquisition problems and disputes with project neighbors in three small areas had stalled the overall project until Sound Transit stepped in and purchased three land parcels; supplied engineering assistance and construction to enable flood protection for a neighbor without the need for a levee project estimated to cost about $4.75 million; and provided legal assistance in a dispute with another project neighbor.

The original habitat-replacement requirement stemmed from construction in 2009-2010 for Sounder commuter rail between Seattle and Everett. The work involved filling near-shore habitat along Puget Sound, mainly between Woodway and Mukilteo. Sound Transit worked with BNSF to reduce the amount of fill, resulting in a smaller environmental impact.

Metro Transit Introduces Next-Generation Hybrid Buses

Metro Transit in Minneapolis/St. Paul unveiled its two newest hybrid-electric buses Aug. 24 at the Minnesota State Fair. The buses have strong Minnesota connections: they were built at the New Flyer plant in St. Cloud and will operate in the fleet of the state’s largest public transit provider. After the fair, the buses will operate on routes serving downtown Minneapolis and surrounding communities.

The new vehicle operates onboard systems such as the air compressor, heating and cooling, and power steering directly from the battery—unlike earlier hybrid buses, which used power from the non-electric (diesel or compressed natural gas) engine. This change results in additional fuel savings, reduced emissions, and other benefits. The new bus model also can operate in all-electric mode, providing emission-free travel for short durations such as on Nicollet Mall in Minneapolis.

“Minnesota has a proud tradition of being on the cutting edge of innovation and implementing new technologies,” said Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN). “These new hybrid buses are a shining example of new ways of doing business that are good for the economy and the environment.”

“Strong relationships with industry partners—and a mutual commitment to the ongoing advancement of energy-efficient transit—led to discussion about improving hybrid buses by bringing together specific technologies and components,” said Metro Transit General Manager Brian Lamb. “The result is here today: the cleanest hybrid buses in the country, built right here in Minnesota.”

Metro Transit received $1.2 million (80 percent) in funding for the two new hybrid-electric buses through a federal Transit Investments for Greenhouse Gas and Energy Reduction grant. Local sources provided the balance.

The agency introduced its first hybrid bus in 2002 and now operates 97 hybrid-electric buses—about 11 percent of its fleet.

 

Participants in ceremonies launching Metro Transit’s newest hybrid-electric vehicles are, from left, Frank Romano, technical services manager, Cummins; Steve Johnson, Thermo King product manager of bus air conditioning; Tom Webb, director of sales, BAE Systems; Paul Soubry, president and chief executive officer, New Flyer; Sen. Amy Klobuchar; and Metro Transit General Manager Brian Lamb.

 


 

New York MTA Bus Time Reaches One Million Text Requests

The New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) recently achieved a major milestone with its Bus Time™ initiative. Riders have sent one million text messages requesting public transit information since the service launched its first borough-wide expansion in January 2012.

Bus Time provides customers with real-time information on the nearest bus; they need only text a bus stop code or intersection to receive a text stating the location of the next bus to that location. It currently serves all local and express routes serving Staten Island, as well as two routes each in Brooklyn and Manhattan.

“The MTA is streamlining commuting by connecting riders with timely transit information when they need it—on the device they use most, their mobile phone,” said Jed Alpert, chief executive officer and co-founder of Mobile Commons, which powers the text messaging capability of Bus Time. “The million-text milestone shows just how useful Bus Time has been and how commuters have adopted it into their lives. We look forward to many more milestones as the program expands across the city.”

An expansion of Bus Time technology to the other boroughs of New York City is underway. Over the next year, more than 6,000 buses and 14,000 bus stops will be upgraded in an effort to make Bus Time fully operational city-wide by the end of 2013.

Renovation Scheduled for Montebello/Commerce Metrolink Station

Montebello Bus Lines (MBL) in Montebello, CA, received approval for a $537,000 proposal to revitalize the Montebello/Commerce Metrolink Station with new landscaping. The station is the fifth of six stops on Metrolink’s Riverside commuter rail line, which originates in downtown Riverside and terminates at Union Station in downtown Los Angeles.

MBL manages the rail station and will oversee the restoration project.

The eco-friendly plan for the 7.44-acre site incorporates sidewalk and pavement repairs, replacement of grassy areas with sustainable landscaping, and removal of diseased trees. It also includes repair and repainting of signs, railings, and other metal structures, and the facility will be upgraded to meet current Americans with Disabilities Act requirements.

“The Montebello/Commerce Metrolink Station is used by thousands of commuters each week and represents a gateway to our community,” said Aurora Jackson, MBL director of transportation. “We look forward to these improvements, which will not only enhance the station, but also demonstrate the city of Montebello’s commitment to sustainability.”

The station opened in 1997 and serves MBL and Los Angeles Metro as well as Metrolink.

BART Employee Foils Credit Card Thief

The San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) announced that the swift actions of an agency employee led to the arrest of a credit card thief who had two outstanding warrants for his arrest. In accordance with BART policy, the agency has not identified the employee.

In the Aug. 20 incident, the employee at Lafayette Station was helping a male customer try to purchase a ticket and noted that the man was attempting to use a credit card with a woman's name on it while also holding a woman's ID card. When questioned, the man abruptly left the station before officers could arrive to investigate. Later, the employee saw the man re-enter the station and immediately called BART Police. The police identified the man and arrested him for possession of stolen property, theft, a parole violation, and two outstanding warrants.

The BART employee later found a woman's wallet in a trash can at the station with identification that matched the name on the credit card the man was trying to use. Officers contacted the owner of the wallet, who identified the suspect as the person who stole her purse from her job earlier that day, a crime she had reported to the Walnut Creek Police Department.

BART Police Chief Kenton Rainey said: “This is one of several scenarios this summer where someone stepped up, did the right thing and reported suspicious behavior, leading to a solid arrest.”

Partnership Leads to Extended GCRTA Service

Thanks to the financial support of numerous partners including the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency, the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA) has expanded its popular, “free with a smile” trolley service in downtown Cleveland to evenings and weekends, effective Sept. 10.

GCRTA also announced several new trolley routes:

The C-Line (Convention & Casino Line) trolley combines major attractions from the B-Line and E-Line trolley routes. It connects the Horseshoe Casino Cleveland and the future Medical Mart and Convention Center, with stops along the way at PlayhouseSquare, the East Fourth Street entertainment district, the Historic Warehouse District, and seven major hotels.

The L-Line (Lakefront Line) carries passengers from Public Square to some of the most popular destinations along the lakefront, including the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Great Lakes Science Center, and Voinovich Bicentennial Park.

The “NineTwelve Line” is a weekday commuter service between the Municipal Parking Lot and Gateway East Parking Garage and businesses in the NineTwelve District. The service will run along East Ninth Street to the Gateway District during morning and afternoon rush hours, stopping at office buildings along the way.

COMMENTARY

America needs to invest more into its infrastructure to compete on a global level

BY BOB VAN DEVENTER, President and CEO, Saginaw County Chamber of Commerce, and ED RENDELL, Former Governor, Pennsylvania, and Co-Chair, Building America’s Future Educational Fund

This op-ed originally appeared in the Saginaw News, Saginaw, MI, and the MLive.com website. Reprinted by permission of the authors.


Infrastructure may be one of the least sexy words in the English language, but it is one of the most important.

Infrastructure is really about the quality of life we want for ourselves, our families and our communities. It’s the roads and bridges we drive on, the schools our children learn in, the trains we ride on, the water we drink. It’s the energy grid that powers our homes and offices and also the dams and levees that protect us from flooding. Like the skeleton in our bodies, infrastructure is the framework on which every other important thing in a modern society is built. It affects our lives each and every day. It is the foundation of our health, security and prosperity.

However, in Michigan, like in many other states across America, infrastructure is aging. According to a respected national organization that analyzes road conditions, TRIP, 35 percent of Michigan’s major roads are in poor or mediocre condition. Driving on roads in need of repair costs Michigan motorists $2.5 billion in extra vehicle repairs and operating costs. That amounts to $357 per motorist. Add to that the 24 percent of the state’s bridges that are either in need of repair or can no longer handle the traffic flow and you start to get the picture of the poor condition of the transportation system.

This unfortunate trend is not unique to Michigan. Our nation’s lack of strategic investment has consequences for every American. In 2010 Americans wasted 4.8 billion hours sitting in traffic at a cost of $101 billion and 1.9 billion wasted gallons of fuel. Further deficiencies in our transportation systems cost households and businesses nearly $130 billion in 2010.

While underinvestment in our transportation infrastructure results in greater congestion and more traffic fatalities (roadway conditions are a significant factor in approximately one-third of traffic fatalities), it also makes America less competitive with the rest of the world.

In 2005, the World Economic Forum ranked America’s infrastructure number one in economic competitiveness. Today, our rank has fallen all the way to 16. It’s a startling statistic until you consider the fact that our global competitors are vastly out-investing the U.S. when it comes to infrastructure. The U.S. invests just 1.7 percent of its GDP on transportation compared with 9 percent in China, 4 percent in Canada, and 2.4 percent in Australia.

Economists, academics and many of our global competitors all seem to agree: Long-term investment in infrastructure is vital to creating long-term economic prosperity. Interest rates are at all-time lows and our economy desperately needs the job creation that would come from significant long-term investment. So what are we waiting for?

In order to make the sort of long-term investments that are needed to upgrade and modernize the nation’s infrastructure, Washington must reform transportation policy by setting clear criteria for all funding, encouraging state and local innovation through competitive incentives, streamlining the project delivery process and making sure that projects start and end on time and on budget and deliver the promised results. The recent transportation bill signed into law in July—Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century—has begun to lay the groundwork for the type of policy reforms that are needed so that scarce federal resources are spent as wisely as possible.

But Washington needs to do more by removing obstacles to further state and local innovations and providing incentives to encourage more partnerships with the private sector. It is vital that there be a multi-year infrastructure policy and investments that will outweigh the cost and are based on sound economics, not politics.

The good news is that it’s not too late to invest in infrastructure, strengthen the economy and build a future for our children and grandchildren. The opportunity is ours and the time is now. Let’s get to work.

PEOPLE ON THE MOVE

Who's Doing What in the Industry

Freddie Fuller
SAN DIEGO, CA—Freddie Fuller, since 2009 an employee of Cubic Transportation Systems, has been appointed to the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials (COMTO) Board of Directors.

Fuller has been a transportation professional for more than 16 years. He is Cubic’s regional sales manager for its Washington, DC-based sales and marketing activities and leads sales opportunities in its mid-Atlantic region.

He has been active in COMTO since 1997 and is chairman of the organization’s strategic planning committee.

Scott Neeley

CORPUS CHRISTI, TX—Scott Neeley, chief executive officer of the Corpus Christi Regional Transportation Authority, has been elected to a two-year term as president of the Texas Transit Association.

TTA’s membership is composed of Texas metropolitan, small urban, and rural public transit agencies, as well as private and public entities from across the U.S.

Rahul Kumar, Rick Pulido
LOMBARD, IL—Veolia Transportation has announced the appointment of two new vice presidents for business development: Rahul Kumar and Rick Pulido.

Kumar has worked for 12 years on transportation projects across the nation, ranging from service restructuring projects in New York, Georgia, and Florida to development of Bus Rapid Transit in Southern California. Mass Transit magazine recognized him as one it its “Top 40 Under 40,” a list of industry leaders with significant accomplishments who are under 40 years of age.

Pulido comes to Veolia from First Transit, where he worked since 1986. He was general manager in Laredo, TX, for 10 years before becoming general manager in Corpus Christi, TX. More recently, Pulido has been assistant general manager of operations in Dallas; regional vice president for the South Central Region, based in San Antonio; and, since 2006, director of business development for the company.

Scott Carlson
DALLAS, TX—Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) announced the appointment of Dallas attorney Scott Carlson as general counsel. Carlson, a former member of the DART Board of Directors, succeeds Hyattye Simmons, who retired earlier this year.

The Dallas City Council named Carlson to the board in 2003. He joins the transit agency from the law firm of Cavazos, Hendricks, Poirot & Smitham, where he served as senior counsel. Earlier, Carlson oversaw regulatory matters at Nortel Networks and was an assistant city attorney in Dallas.

Thomas Nestel III
PHILADELPHIA, PA—The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) has named Thomas Nestel III, formerly chief of police of Upper Moreland Township, PA, as its police chief, effective Aug. 20.

Nestel began his career in law enforcement in 1982 as a patrol officer with the SEPTA Transit Police. He then served more than 22 years in the Philadelphia Police Department, attaining the rank of staff inspector and earning 24 commendations for merit, heroism, and bravery.

He is a fourth-generation police officer whose paternal grandfather was a trolley supervisor for the former Philadelphia Transportation Company and whose maternal grandfather was a Philadelphia police officer.

Judi Cohen
TORONTO, ON—Judi Cohen has joined Metrolinx as director of business development marketing for the Air Rail Link, which when complete will connect Union Station in downtown Toronto with Terminal 1 at Toronto Pearson International Airport.

Cohen comes to Metrolinx with more than 30 years experience. She served most recently as vice president, business development, at Teranet Inc. and has also worked with organizations including SNC-Lavalin, AECOM, Hatch Mott MacDonald, Transport Canada, and the Toronto Transit Commission.

She will lead the Air Rail Link marketing and brand strategy while identifying business opportunities.

Steven L. Abrams, Bruno Barreiro
POMPANO BEACH, FL—Palm Beach County Commissioner Steven L. Abrams was elected chair of the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority (SFRTA) Governing Board. Miami-Dade County Commissioner Bruno Barreiro was elected vice chair.

Abrams joined the SFRTA board in August 2010. He was mayor of Boca Raton from 2001 to 2008 and has served on the Palm Beach County Board of Commissioners representing District 4 since 2009.

He gained national exposure during an October 2011 incident where anthrax was discovered at the AMI Building in Boca Raton. For his service, Abrams received the Distinguished Service Medal from the Israel National Police and testified on national television at the invitation of a Senate subcommittee.

Barreiro served on the board from November 2000 to July 2003, returning in January 2006. He has served four terms as SFRTA chair and was first elected to the Miami-Dade County Board of County Commissioners in 1988.

Thomas E. Mitchell
NEW YORK, NY—Urban Engineers Inc. has named Thomas E. Mitchell, P.E., director of national construction consulting services.

Mitchell has more than three decades of diverse experience in construction and project management projects throughout the U.S. He has provided construction consulting services for many public agencies, including the Department of Justice, and many state transportation and public transit agencies, law firms, and private concerns.

James F. Adams
DALLAS, TX—James F. Adams is the newest member of the Dallas Area Rapid Transit Board of Directors, appointed by the Dallas City Council.

Adams is president of Innisfree Investments of Dallas.





Keith Whalen
CINCINNATI, OH—Keith Whalen has joined First Transit as senior vice president of business development.

Whalen began his career driving fixed route services and has more than 23 years of experience in public transportation. He comes to First Transit from MV Transportation Inc., where he served as president, East Group operations, and more recently chief development officer. He also has worked for Laidlaw Transit Services Inc.

Terry Garcia Crews
CINCINNATI, OH—Terry Garcia Crews, chief executive officer and general manager of the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority/Metro, has been selected to participate in the Leadership Cincinnati Class 36. Leadership Cincinnati, the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber’s leadership development program, provides participants with a broad view of civic leadership through direct contact with a wide variety of institutions and people, and stimulates concern for the quality of life in the region.

A transit professional with more than 20 years of experience in both the private and public sectors, Garcia Crews joined SORTA in 2010. She is an at-large director on the APTA Board of Directors and a member of the APTA Bus and Paratransit CEOs Committee; Bus Operations Committee; and Mid-Size Operations Committee.

David Dye
KANSAS CITY, MO—HNTB announced the appointment of David Dye, P.E., as vice president and senior program director for its program delivery practice.

Dye has more than 30 years of experience in the administration and management of complex transportation, public transit, and design-build projects. He joins the firm from Washington State DOT, where he was deputy secretary and chief operating officer.