Passenger Transport - October 19, 2012
Rail~Volution photos by John Crandall
Panelists at the “Building Livable Communities” session include, from left, Scot Spencer, Ralph Becker, Scott Bernstein, Rep. Earl Blumenauer, Diana Mendes, G.B. Arrington, and Michael Melaniphy.
In advance of beginning regular service this month, Sound Transit in Seattle commemorated the launch of Sounder commuter rail service to Lakewood and South Tacoma with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Lakewood Station and celebrations at three stations attended by about 2,000 people.
With the opening of the Lakewood extension, Sounder now operates on an 82-mile commuter rail corridor.
Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland, also a Sound Transit board member, presented some advantages of rail travel compared with driving: “Rail options like this give people the chance to break out of gridlock, relax, and enjoy the views. It saves money on gas and parking and puts some time back in your day to read, catch up on work, or finish that knitting project.”
Festivities at the Lakewood Station began with a Posting of Colors by the Joint Base Lewis McCord 4/2 Stryker Brigade. The day featured speakers, live music, and commemorative souvenirs.
Sound Transit designated South Tacoma Station the “Kid Zone.” Children’s activities included face painting, balloon animals, coloring, model paper trains, and a visit from the agency’s traffic-fighting superhero, “Zap Gridlock.” A mariachi band performed and guests could take a free ride on the new commuter rail line. Representatives of Operation Lifesaver were on hand to provide tips and tools for staying safe around active railroad tracks.
Freighthouse Square at Tacoma Dome Station also offered live music and commemorative items, as well as a free train ride to Lakewood Station.
Regular Sounder service on the line begins at Lakewood, stops at South Tacoma, and proceeds to Tacoma Dome and other stations farther north.
Amid a flurry of confetti, the first Sounder train pulls into Lakewood Station on Oct. 6.
FTA Administrator Peter M. Rogoff visited the 9th Street Trolley Station in Charlotte, NC, Oct. 16 to present a federal Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) to the Charlotte Area Transit System for the LYNX Blue Line light rail extension. The agreement will provide 50 percent of project costs for the extension; it is the last major funding source needed to advance the project toward construction.
Also present at the event were CATS Chief Executive Officer Carolyn Flowers; Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx; Metropolitan Transit Commission Chair Harold Cogdell; and other state and local leaders.
The mayor called the FFGA “another step forward in developing a first-rate transportation system for the region that increases our competitiveness, attracts jobs, and enhances mobility for all of our citizens…. We are not done building our transit system, but this announcement is nothing less than a grand slam home run.”
The 9.3-mile CATS LYNX Blue Line Extension will run from 7th Street in Uptown Charlotte to the University of North Carolina Charlotte campus in the University area. It will incorporate 11 stations and four parking facilities with approximately 3,100 parking spaces.
“We are pleased that President Obama, [DOT] Secretary [Ray] LaHood, and Administrator Rogoff have provided the funding partnership to allow CATS to expand the state’s first light rail line connecting one end of the county to the other,” said Flowers. “Once completed in 2017, the LYNX Blue Line will provide the region with a congestion-free, consistent travel time from south Charlotte to northeast Charlotte.”
The $1.16 billion LYNX Blue Line Extension is the largest capital project in the city’s history. Fifty percent of funding comes from FTA; 25 percent from North Carolina DOT; and the rest from the local half-cent sales tax dedicated to public transit, including 2.7 percent from the city through in-kind right-of-way (ROW) and donated ROW from UNC Charlotte. Construction is scheduled to begin in fall 2013 with operational service expected in 2017.
Once completed, the LYNX Blue Line will provide almost 20 miles of cross-county travel in 47 minutes. Just like the initial segment of the Blue Line, the expansion is projected to generate additional private investment adjacent to rail stations.
FTA Administrator Peter M. Rogoff, at podium, speaks at the FFGA signing ceremony in Charlotte. The setting is the 9th Street Trolley Station, which will also serve the LYNX Blue Line when it opens in 2017.
Metro Transit in Minneapolis/St. Paul unveiled the first light rail vehicle (LRV) built for the Central Corridor Light Rail Line in ceremonies Oct. 10 at Target Field Station.
Pre-recorded steam engine whistles and “chug-a-chug-a” train sounds broadcast over the station’s speakers and public officials greeted No. 201 as the electric-powered LRV glided to a stop next to a recently repainted Hiawatha Line LRV also at the station. Both sported the new METRO logo identifying them as part of the color-coded system of light rail and bus rapid transit (BRT) lines: the Hiawatha Line will be rebranded as the Blue Line, while the Central Corridor line will be called the Green Line when it enters service in 2014.
The Green Line will provide improved access to five major centers of economic activity—downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul, the University of Minnesota, the Midway district, and the state Capitol complex—and many neighborhoods in between. Together, the five job centers house almost 280,000 jobs, a number that is expected to grow to 374,000 by 2030.
Siemens, at its plant in Sacramento, CA, will build 47 new LRVs to operate on the Green Line and 12 new vehicles for the Hiawatha (Blue) Line, joining 27 LRVs now in service. The newest vehicles are scheduled for delivery through April 2014, peaking at four arrivals a month in 2013.
“Investing in a 21st-century transportation system is vital to boosting Minnesota’s economy and helping lift up our local communities,” said Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) at the event. “This is an important step in the continued expansion of light rail service to better serve residents and businesses.”
Other speakers at the dedication program included Metropolitan Council Chair Susan Haigh, Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN), Ramsey County Commissioner Jim McDonough, Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, and Metro Transit General Manager Brian Lamb. They described the role of Metro Transit light rail in creating improved livability and region-wide accessibility.
“After a decade of collaboration and hard work, we are one step closer to opening the Central Corridor,” McCollom noted. “This [construction] project has already put over 4,000 people to work. When trains start running in two short years, Central Corridor will connect our communities, create even more good jobs, and generate new economic vitality throughout our region.”
Testing of the new LRVs on Central Corridor tracks will begin in late 2013. The outcome of the tests will determine the line’s opening date in 2014.
The first new LRV that will operate on Metro Transit's Central Corridor Light Rail Line--now renamed the Green Line--arrives at Target Field Station.
The Capital Area Transportation Authority (CATA) in Lansing, MI, marked the recent completion of its new, 212,500-square-foot bus storage facility with a “ribbon-busting” ceremony. The day-long event also featured a public open house, guided tours, vehicle showcase, and rides through the bus wash bay aboard an articulated hybrid.
Steve Soliz, president of Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 1039, had the honor of breaking through the ceremonial ribbon with a 60-foot hybrid vehicle. ATU Local 1039 represents CATA’s 242 bus operators, utility workers, and mechanics.
“When CATA formed in 1972, the city of Lansing allowed us to have a condemned house on Mill Street,” said Chief Executive Officer/Executive Director Sandy Draggoo. “When we first moved into this facility on Tranter Street, it was 60,000 square feet. We’ve come a long way since Mill Street, thanks to the many friends over our 40-year history who’ve consistently supported public transportation.”
The agency received $9.85 million in state and federal funding, including an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant, to support the expansion and renovation of the facility. The three-phase construction process began about two years ago.
CATA said this project was the first in its 40-year history to employ a project labor agreement, which means that federal dollars earmarked for the expansion and renovation effort could be used to directly benefit Michigan workers, contractors, and subcontractors.
Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) said the facility’s capacity to house the CATA fleet “goes a long way for longevity,” reducing fuel consumption during startups and extending vehicle life. “That tells you that my mother was right: The wheels on the bus do go ’round and ’round,” he added.
The new storage facility will house approximately 200 vehicles, including about 150 buses ranging in length from 25 feet to 60 feet. The other vehicles will include CATA transport vans, department vehicles, and service trucks.
An articulated CATA hybrid bus driven by Steve Soliz, president of ATU Local 1039, approaches the ceremonial ribbon as it advances through the bus storage facility door.
STV has acquired ARCHITECTURE/vbn (VBN), an award-winning architectural design firm based in Oakland, CA. STV will integrate VBN into its West Coast operations.
Founded in 1958, VBN serves education, transportation, government, and commercial clients, and has extensive experience in public transit facility design. The firm is also a registered green business.
Eli Naor, AIA, one of the principals at VBN, is joining STV as a vice president and will head the California Facilities group.
“STV and VBN have been working together to seamlessly integrate our corporate cultures,” said Milo E. Riverso, Ph.D., P.E., chief executive officer and president of STV. “This is a great match. VBN’s excellent skill set strengthens STV’s services, so we can better serve our existing clients in the Western region.”
VBN’s public transportation work encompasses large- and small-scale projects such as intermodal terminals, bus facilities, light rail, rail stations, and pubilc transit centers. Its projects include the Millbrae Station for the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District; the Transit Mall Station for Long Beach Transit; the Richmond Intermodal Station for the Contra Costa Transportation Advisory Committee; and multiple stations for the California High Speed Rail Project.
The Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA) in Jacksonville, FL, has selected Nathaniel P. Ford Sr. as its next executive director/chief executive officer. He succeeds Michael Blaylock.
Ford, managing principal of the Ford Transportation Group LLC in Atlanta, has 29 years of transportation experience. He began his career as a train conductor for MTA New York City Transit and later served the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District; Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority, becoming general manager/chief executive officer in 2000; and San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency as chief executive officer.
He is a former APTA secretary-treasurer who currently is secretary-treasurer of the American Public Transportation Foundation and a member of numerous APTA committees.
The Birmingham-Jefferson County Transit Authority (BJCTA) in Birmingham, AL, has named Ann Dawson-August its new executive director, effective January 2013.
Dawson-August, who has worked in public transportation for more than 30 years, has served since 2001 as executive director of the Santee Wateree Regional Transportation Authority in Sumter, SC. She earlier spent 13 years with the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority in Philadelphia.
Debra Anderson Burse has been acting director of BJCTA since Peter Behrman stepped down from the post in the spring.
“The board was committed to hiring an individual with experience, who was knowledgeable about all facets of transit, and who had a proven track record of success managing and operating a transit system,” said BJCTA Board Chair Joyce E. Brooks. “We are confident in Mrs. August’s ability to lead the efforts in building a transit system that the entire community can be proud of.”
Dawson-August said: “Transportation is my passion and has been for the past 32 years. I am truly ready to hit the ground running, and to start establishing more partnerships that will help the BJCTA team turn the page and create a new chapter in Alabama’s transit history.”
The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) Board of Directors has selected Keith T. Parker as its next general manager and chief executive officer. He will succeed Dr. Beverly A. Scott, who is taking on the top job with the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority in Boston.
“We strongly believe that Keith Parker is the best choice for MARTA,” said MARTA Board Chairman Frederick L. Daniels Jr. “We are extremely proud of the work we have done to this point, and we are very confident that we have picked the right man for the right job at the right time.”
Since 2009, Parker has been president/chief executive officer of VIA Metropolitan Transit in San Antonio, TX. Earlier he was chief executive officer of the Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) in Charlotte, NC, also serving as CATS chief operating officer and as assistant city manager for the city of Charlotte. He also has held executive posts with the Clark County Transit Authority in Vancouver, WA, and GRTC Transit System in Richmond, VA.
MARTA is the nation’s ninth largest public transit system.
VIA has named Jeff Arndt, deputy chief executive officer and chief of business support services, to serve as interim CEO. Arndt spent 25 years with Houston’s Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County in several leadership positions, including responsibility for the operation of more than 100 miles of transit priority lanes (in cooperation with Texas DOT) and directing the operation of Houston’s light rail line.
Citilink in Fort Wayne, IN, recently opened its improved Downtown Transit Station, culminating a planning process that began in 2002.
The new, 2,700-square-foot facility sits on property owned by Citilink that had previously served as the agency’s south transit terminal. The agency funded 80 percent of planning, design, and construction costs with FTA grants. The 20 percent local share came from Citilink capital reserves, which include property tax revenue and proceeds from the sale of other properties.
The station offers an information center and indoor restrooms for Citilink riders, as well as a bus drivers’ lounge. Visitors can purchase bus passes, speak with customer service staff, pick up maps and schedules, receive electronic messages regarding on-time status of buses and other notifications, and enjoy the community park area. Canopy-covered bus bays protect waiting passengers from rain, wind, and snow.
The station design incorporates many environmentally friendly features, such as geothermal heating/cooling with radiant heating in the flooring; numerous windows and skylights to provide ambient lighting; state-of-the-art efficient lighting; energy controls; and low-maintenance structures and landscaping.
Citilink designed the transit center to complement the surrounding architecture, with elements including red brick to match surrounding buildings and canopies reminiscent of Barr Street Market and the nearby train station. The facility is expected to serve more than 5,000 passengers a day.
The Central New York Regional Transportation Authority (Centro) recently opened its new Transit Hub in downtown Syracuse, NY. The facility is the main transfer location for the agency’s bus services in Syracuse and surrounding communities; it also is designed to serve as the linchpin for future development of the city’s downtown business district.
The new facility replaces a four corners location known as “Common Center,” where buses lined up outdoors in all four directions of the intersection. Public transportation picked up passengers at this intersection back to the days of horse cars.
“We simply outgrew ‘Common Center’ and smothered that intersection,” said Centro Executive Director Frank Kobliski. “So we moved a couple of blocks south and built the Transit Hub. Now our customers have a refuge from the elements, access to restrooms, and they no longer have to guess where their bus will be. Each bus route departs from a designated bus bay.”
The new facility includes a 55,000-square-foot canopy, 22 sawtooth bus bays, and heated sidewalks to help melt the 110 inches of snow that fall in Syracuse during an average winter. Other amenities include ticket vending machines and indoor/outdoor electronic bus information monitors.
“The hub has improved the overall transit experience for our customers and provided them with a tangible home—not just a street corner,” said Kobliski.
With the transition of service to the Transit Hub, developers have taken interest in the site of the former Common Center. The $25 million Pike Block project, currently underway, will renovate 130,000 square feet of vacant space into 78 market-rate apartments, 25,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space, and a revitalized city center.
“This project represents a major advance for downtown Syracuse, contributing to renewed community vibrancy that is spurring economic growth,” said Robert Simpson, president of CenterState CEO, the region’s business leadership and economic development organization. “In the last year we have welcomed 22 new businesses to downtown. In fact, 38 percent of Syracuse’s jobs are within three miles of the city’s center. Convenient transportation is part of this movement back to the city, and Centro’s Transit Hub greatly enhances that experience.”
The Transit Hub project cost $18.8 million and was funded through various federal grants, including $8.5 million under DOT’s Livability Grant program designed specifically to fund projects that improve the quality of public transportation and the communities it serves.
An aerial view of Centro’s new Transit Hub in downtown Syracuse, NY.
There are never enough opportunities for people to show their appreciation for and properly thank veterans for the tremendous sacrifices and dedicated service they have given to this country.
That’s why we look forward to Veterans Day—Nov. 12—when APTA and the public transportation industry will pay tribute to these heroes.
While the public transit industry as a whole is honored to salute veterans for their exemplary contributions to the United States, individuals are fully aware that their actions must mirror their words. The best way to demonstrate gratitude, APTA believes, is by showing that public transit professionals are committed to recruiting veterans to careers in the industry while also connecting them by public transit to available services and resources.
To help public transportation professionals participate in this important celebration, APTA has prepared an online toolkit that includes logo artwork and a suggested activities list. APTA is also asking for help in growing this list: share ideas for saluting America’s veterans and send them to Erin Cartwright.
Join APTA and the public transportation industry in paying tribute to America’s heroes on Veterans Day, Nov. 12.
What if one of the presidential or vice presidential candidates went along with you on your commute and you had the opportunity to ask him a question about improving our nationwide surface transportation system? What would you ask?
After two presidential and one vice-presidential debates, there is still no substantive discussion about how to improve our nationwide surface transportation system. So APTA posed this question to more than 132,000 public transit users and supporters on Facebook about what they would ask the candidates. Many focused on asking the candidates directly how they would expand public transportation in this country.
“It is important to raise the transportation issue among the American people since there has not been a strong focus on this topic thus far during the debates,” said APTA President and CEO Michael Melaniphy. “Public transit riders and supporters understand that investing in our transportation infrastructure is crucial for all citizens. It benefits all Americans—and investment is a key element to the economic vitality of our nation.”
Here is a small sample of the questions public transit riders and supporters would pose to the candidates if they had the chance.
* “What is your commitment to public transportation? Can we count on you to invest in modern forms of public transportation?”
* “What will you (your party) do to support mass transit expansion in cities that do not currently have a comprehensive public transit system?”
* “My question is: given the fact our current grid is outdated, when will we actually step into the 21st century and update it, and if you are not including a public transportation plan along with those updates, how do you intend to end our dependency on fossil fuels that are wiping humans from the face of Earth?”
* “When can we start an upgrade on our rail lines and services? When can we experience what European countries already know about moving people and decreasing fossil fuel dependency? Why not now?”
* “When are we going to come together as a country and improve mass transportation across the U.S.?”
* “When tax dollars were designated for the improvement of our highways, that was wonderful. However, why haven’t we seen more mass transit systems being put in place?”
* “The East Coast needs high-speed rail. How would you make this economically feasible?”
* “I want out of my car…We deserve a choice.”
* “Why isn’t there any will to stand up in the government and create a new WPA like we had during the original Great Depression? All the best infrastructure we still have around here in eastern Pennsylvania was built then as part of that program, but it’s old and crumbling and needs help. WHY can’t we repeat this fantastically successful program?”
* “Why can’t there be more connections between small and big towns using public transportation? Back in ‘the day’ they had interurbans which I think did just that.”
For more examples of the comments or to join in the discussion, click here.
APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy, right, recently visited the facilities of the Chicago Transit Authority, which he cited for their "tremendous state of good repair needs." At left is Jim Harper, CTA's chief engineer.
Ralign T. Wells
Administrator and CEO
Maryland Transit Administration
How many people do you employ/how many people at your agency? More than 3,300
How long have you worked in the public transportation industry? 23 years
How long have you been an APTA member? 15 years
What drew you to a career in public transportation?
I used public transit growing up in Baltimore, but more than that I was always enthralled and amazed by the process of moving so many people on buses and trains to so many different locations. As a little kid, back when we didn’t have video games, I’d pretend I was a bus driver. A coat hanger served as my steering wheel as I sat in my room dreaming of driving a bus. As fate would have it, I got my start in transportation as a part-time weekend bus operator.
What have you found to be the most valuable APTA benefit or resource—that helps you do your job?
One of the most valuable benefits of APTA is the ability to bring our peers together. While the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) is unique in many ways, the issues and the challenges public transit agencies face are similar across the nation. That’s why having the network of peers that APTA assembles—through conferences or peer reviews—has been very helpful. Frequently we’ve been able to determine the best practices for a particular issue, along with some of the things that didn’t work so well.
Also, we have several employees who are graduates of Leadership APTA who are now executive members of our organization. What they learned through this program has proven invaluable to us, and they are contributing to our mission and our vision.
Please explain why or how this has helped.
A few years ago we had some issues with our light rail system and solicited an APTA peer review. Through that process, we were able to make a number of improvements, particularly with wheel slippage. We learned that other agencies were dealing with this issue as well and that the problem was seasonal. Another beneficial peer review focused on eliminating trespassing.
What do you like most about your job?
Having grown up in this agency—literally—there are a great many things I love about my job. Right at the top of the list is our impact on the lives of people. Every day we’re able to successfully move more than 400,000 trips in a densely populated urban area, demonstrating our commitment to safety and quality service. We have successfully relayed that message to each and every employee.
This job brings new challenges every day. We have to be creative and come up with new initiatives, constantly reinventing the organization to provide consistent service in the face of fiscal constraints. I have never been a person satisfied with good, as good is never good enough. To enhance our performance, the Maryland Transit Administration developed an aggressive performance management program that has made us more efficient and saved more than $35 million. This also helped us come in under budget without cutting service or raising fares: in fact, we have put 2 percent more service hours on the street.
And then there are the daily operational challenges. We recently experienced the Grand Prix of Baltimore going through our downtown area, where 80 percent of our routes travel. Our challenge was to limit the impact on our service while also providing a transit option for the race fans who converged on the city for the event. With that challenge came a terrific opportunity: we showcased one of our hybrid buses as a pace vehicle! We believe it’s the first time a bus has appeared in a Grand Prix. It was a great morale boost for the staff and conveyed the state of Maryland’s commitment to green technology.
What is unique about your agency?
One of the things that makes the MTA unique is that we are a state-run transit agency, not an authority. We are also one of the few that has so many modes: light rail, subway, core bus, commuter bus, paratransit, MARC commuter rail, and our own police department. We are also unique in how our governance works. As a state agency, our funding stream is the Maryland Transportation Trust Fund.
The MTA also has $5 billion in New Starts projects underway. The Red and Purple lines will greatly expand our light rail service. Also, our Corridor Cities project will bring Bus Rapid Transit to Maryland.
Make sure you see Ralign T. Wells' video, now that you've read this!
Executive Assistant to the Vice President
What are the top job elements you focus on the most—your primary responsibilities?
I’m the primary support person to Kathy Waters, APTA vice president-member services. I also provide primary support to Fran Hooper, consultant to the Business Member Board of Governors (BMBG), and help as needed to other Member Services staff. I strive to give support to all staff members within the Member Services Department.
Here’s an example of the unique service I’ve been called on to provide: During the APTA/UIC High-Speed Rail Practicums held in the winter of 2010 in Washington, DC, Chicago, and then Los Angeles—during what we in Washington called “Snowmageddon”—I had to work during the night canceling and rebooking flights for speakers, a few members, and staff members. The fun part was that I could do it in my pajamas while looking out of my picture window, watching the snow come down, and down, and down. This would have been one of the most challenging requests I have had, but I’m sure it isn’t the only one.
One of my priorities is providing additional help to Member Services staff when their administrative assistants are away from work. In that same frame, assistants who are busy with special projects can come to me for backup help to keep their department workflow progressing.
Do you have direct contact with APTA members? If so, please talk about the most recent times you’ve helped out a member.
One recent contact was helping a member to verify that her membership dues had been paid because she wanted to register for the Annual Meeting. When staff in the meetings section of our department are away from the office attending meetings, I try to keep up with member questions that may arise in their absence.
I receive phone calls from APTA members on a daily basis regarding a variety of topics. For example, callers may request information regarding a specific member; ask who to contact about meeting registration; and seek information on “Buy America.” I can provide the APTA meeting information the caller needs rather than overburdening the meetings staff, and filter calls to other departments. I can tell the caller about committee meeting times and locations for business members.
What initiatives, projects, or programs have you worked on at APTA that you have taken particular pride in completing?
When I first came to APTA, we mailed out the BMBG “Business in Motion” newsletter in large envelopes. I tinkered with the design so we could fold the issues and mail them in smaller envelopes, saving postage for APTA. Now, we’re just beginning to release “Business in Motion” electronically.
How did you “land” at APTA? How long have you worked here?
I came in as a temporary employee and worked for four months. They made a permanent position for me after that. I’ve been there for 11 years now.
I started out working for the director of member services and after a few years was promoted to my present position, working for the vice president of member services.
Have you held other jobs in the public transportation industry (besides working at APTA)?
Could you tell us something about yourself that might surprise us?
My grandfather and his two brothers started and owned the Yellow Cab Company in my hometown of Portsmouth, OH. My mother was their dispatcher and occasional cab driver when one of the drivers called in sick. After about 20-some years, my grandfather and his brothers wanted to retire and sold the cab company.
At that point, my grandfather and two uncles started up the first bus company in my hometown. It was not a success—people didn’t like taking the bus as much as they did calling a cab.
Make sure you see Martha Coffin's video, now that you've read this!
BY SUSAN BERLIN, Senior Editor
When a metropolitan area hosts an event of national or international significance, the spectators should not leave thinking about transportation challenges.
That was the key message of “Olympic Games, World Cups, and Mega Events,” an Oct. 2 session at the APTA Annual Meeting that brought together representatives of public transit agencies in London, host of the 2012 Olympic Games; Charlotte, NC, site of the 2012 Democratic National Convention; and New Jersey, where the 2014 Super Bowl will be played.
Howard Collins, chief operating officer, London Underground, stated the theme: “If we do our job right, we shouldn’t hear about transit.” He explained that the city had seven years to prepare for the Olympics—the largest event in the history of the United Kingdom—and work with aging assets, insufficient public transit infrastructure, and existing high ridership levels.
The Olympic schedule provided for 80-90 percent of all spectators using public transportation, according to Collins. To accommodate these new riders, the London Underground encouraged its daily commuters to change their travel plans during the games—and up to 40 percent of them did.
Every employee took part in the Olympic effort, he noted: office staff went into the field as Customer Service Assistance and Travel Ambassador volunteers to help visitors. As a result, he said, “for the first time, everyone in the system got to know each other by name. That’s what collaboration is all about.”
Collins defined the legacy of the Olympic service as follows: “With the proper campaign, you can help people change so they can deal with a difficult situation. We improved our reputation—and that’s worth millions.”
Carolyn Flowers, chief executive officer, Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS), noted that Charlotte is a small city with a population of 700,000, so its resources are different than those of London. In addition, she said. “a political convention is very different from the Olympics because it’s an event that is controlled by the Secret Service.”
She explained that CATS staff realized early on that the agency would have to move its downtown transit hub during the convention because the main facility was within the security zone around the convention site. This meant establishing a temporary hub a few blocks away—but making sure that this facility replicated the amenities that CATS riders had come to expect.
In one way, CATS operated similarly to the London Underground: every employee had to sign up for two shifts as an ambassador in the field—including Flowers herself.
James Weinstein, executive director, New Jersey Transit Corporation (NJ Transit), reported on how the agency is preparing to host a rare outdoor cold-weather Super Bowl at MetLife Stadium in the Meadowlands. NJ Transit, in partnership with the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, recently opened a new rail station near the stadium and has seen increasing ridership for Giants and Jets football games and concerts at the site.
“Each event is a learning experience for our agency,” Weinstein explained. “In preparing for small-scale events, we created a foundation for larger events.”
He noted that the Super Bowl consists of a series of public and private events throughout the region. NJ Transit will work with the Port Authority and MTA New York City Transit to eliminate barriers for Super Bowl guests, possibly including introduction of a single region-wide transit pass.
Rehana Moosajee moderated the session. She is Johannesburg, South Africa’s, transport councilor and member of the city’s Mayoral Committee, who oversaw public transportation efforts prior to her city hosting the soccer World Cup.
Panelists at the Mega Events session. from left: Carolyn Flowers, Rehana Moosajee. Howard Collins, and James Weinstein.
BY KATHY GOLDEN, Editor
To what does Seattle’s Pike Place Fish Market owe its success? According to owner John Yokoyama, a generous mother-in-law, a positive attitude, and a powerful vision.
Yokoyama told a packed audience at the Closing General Session of the 2012 APTA Annual Meeting in Seattle that in 1986 he was facing bankruptcy. Because he had never applied for a loan, he was unable to secure one from a bank. His mother-in-law stepped in and gave him a $50,000 loan.
“I pulled my team together and told them it’s either sink or swim,” he said. “I had a choice: have a good time or not.”
He hired Jim Bergquist, a business consultant, whose wife worked for the market, for three months to help improve his team. Bergquist still works with him to this day.
What’s unique about this partnership and the success of the market is that no one spent a dime on advertising. Instead, Yokoyama made a deal with Jim “that we would become world-famous. “One kid, Yokoyama explained, said, ‘Let’s be world-famous.’ And the more we talked about it, the more we all got excited about it. So, we committed to this.”
The extraordinary success that followed, he said, “has come to us because we are playing,” and “we are committed, individually and as a team.”
Today, Seattle’s World Famous Pike Place Fish Market is renowned—truly worldwide—for its high employee morale and legendary customer service. When people ask how to copy Pike Place’s success, Yokoyama tells them it’s not about copying. Rather, it’s about finding their own way and doing what inspires them.
Bergquist, consultant/coach with bizFutures Consulting, Bellingham, WA, told the audience: “What differentiates [the Pike Place Fishmongers] is that they have created a game to play and they find ways to express what this means.” He added: “I told them, once they declared their commitment, things would just unfold.”
The session ended with an unorthodox, but fun, team-building exercise. Two fishmongers from the market divided the audience in half, lining up one team along one wall of the large conference room and the other along the opposite side. The goal: to see which team could pass a fish down the line the fastest.
Not one person dropped it along the way!
Annual Meeting photos by Heather Trimm
Closing General Session participants pass a fish hand to hand as part of a team-building exercise.
APTA Chair Flora Castillo joins other APTA Executive Committee members and staff as she prepares to catch a flying fish. From left are Yvette Conley, APTA senior program manager-foundation development and member support; Castillo; Karen Harvey, APTA director-human resources; Executive Committee member Angela Iannuzziello; and Joseph Niegoski, APTA director-educational services.
BY CHERYL PYATT, APTA Program Manager-Educational Services, and and JULIA WALKER, Program Manager-International Programs
Public transportation is global and will remain so for generations to come. It is the duty of public transportation officials from around the world to train and educate future leaders and support initiatives that engage and excite young people to become dedicated and lifelong public transit professionals.
APTA realizes the importance of the next generation workforce and—in accordance with the Student Ambassador Program, which encourages students to attend APTA meetings and conferences for free—its International Program took this emphasis to another level by reaching out to students from halfway around the world.
Lagos State University in Nigeria understands the importance of encouraging its public transit students to experience systems worldwide so they can compare operations and management styles and bring home ideas, practices, and technologies. For that reason, the university funded the travel of 21 students and two faculty member to the APTA Annual Meeting in Seattle, followed by a study tour of public transportation in Los Angeles, one of the nation’s busiest and most congested cities.
Since the beginning of the year, Dr. Tajudeen Olukayode Bawa-Allah dean, School of Transport, Lagos State University, has worked with APTA to develop an educational study tour agenda that would provide opportunities for the students to experience U.S. public transit, network with APTA members, and grasp the ins and outs of transit operations throughout the country. He and Dr. Senapon Bakara accompanied the students to Seattle—the first trip to the U.S. for most of the students.
Keeping in mind that Lagos is in a time zone eight hours ahead of Seattle, the students arrived for their briefing Sunday, Sept. 30, alert and ready to go. Paul Larrousse, executive director, National Transit Institute, provided them a full-day overview of U.S. public transportation, including the modes, demographics, and history of U.S. public transportation, principles of service planning, and the role of land use and physical development of the service area.
Larrousse said the students “were very eager to learn about the nature of transit in the U.S. and how we plan and operate our systems. Being able to share this experience was rewarding as we all need to learn from each other.”
During the meeting, the students interacted with both domestic and international attendees at the International Reception and Gala Reception, attended educational sessions, and visited the Products & Services Showcase. But there is only so much one can learn from a conference; the students had to experience Seattle’s public transit for themselves.
Since Lagos is a port city, the students decided to try King County’s water taxi service. The captain gave them a presentation, then took them on a tour to West Seattle where the taxi docked and the students saw a “man overboard” drill. King County Metro also conducted a private tour of the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel, the Transit/Link Communications and Control Center, and the Atlantic/Central Operations Base.
After the conclusion of the APTA Annual Meeting, the students departed Seattle for Los Angeles. They visited Los Angeles Metro’s Bus Operations Control Center, rode the Metro Red Line subway and Metro Gold Line light rail, and received a briefing about Metro’s Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) program followed by a tour of the BRT Orange Line, among other activities. At the same time, they were able to see Hollywood, Woodland Hills, and Pasadena—all via public transit.
It is exciting to see in these students an enthusiasm for public transit from the industry’s future workforce. It is foreseeable that Lagos will be a leader in the public transit community across the globe once these students are selected to lead its growing transportation network.
Editor’s Note: Special thanks to the staff of King County Metro Transit, King County Water Taxi, King County Ferry District, and Los Angeles Metro for their hospitality.
The delegation of students from Lagos State University who participated in the APTA Annual Meeting.
BY PETER LEHNER
This piece was cross-posted from NRDC’s Switchboard. Peter Lehner is executive director at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
On average, Americans spend more than 100 hours commuting to work every year. That means we spend more time on the road, trying to get to work, than we do on a standard two-week (80-hour) vacation. And when gas prices approach $4 a gallon, as they seem to do on a regular basis, those hours spent on the road, idling in traffic, become even more painful.
A new bipartisan poll released Wednesday [Sept. 12] makes it clear that Americans hate traffic, and are looking to transit as a solution to end our traffic woes. Nearly three out of four Americans, Republicans and Democrats alike, say that poor transportation options force them to drive more than they would like. Two out of three people support government investment in expanding and improving public transportation; twice as many people, in fact, preferred a transit solution over building new roads.
Congress managed to pass a long-delayed transportation bill this summer, but it focused on highway construction while giving short shrift to the solutions people are looking for: better public transportation, bike lanes, and the development of more walkable communities. Americans want to get where they need to go, but if Congress continues to focus on building new highways, often where they are not needed, we’ll all be stuck in traffic instead.
Investing in public transit not only gives people more ways to get around—it’s also one of the best investments a government can make. That’s why the White House convened a special forum, which I attended yesterday, along with transportation policy experts, labor leaders, and economists, on how transit investment creates jobs and builds better communities.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood spoke to the group, which included United Steelworkers president Leo Gerard and Blue-Green Alliance president Dave Foster. The hot topic? Implementation of the transit provisions of the new national transportation law, which could help repair aging rail lines as well as finance the construction of new, cost-effective transit projects such as bus rapid transit.
Having a clean, fast, reliable public transit system reduces traffic gridlock, which makes it easier for people and goods to get around. When a company—say, a florist—can cut the travel time it needs to make a delivery, it not only saves gas and money, but opens up the possibility to grow its business, delivering more flowers to more customers. A solid transportation network is a boon to any economy, just as a gridlocked, crumbling system can be a stumbling block to growth.
Investing in public transit is also a proven job creator, generating twice as many jobs per billion as new highway construction. This is not just in local work, but has ripple effects across the country. When New York City needs subway cars, for example, production ramps up at the plant in Lincoln, Nebraska, where they’re made.
For communities, with the right zoning in place, transit stops become magnets for commercial and residential development, creating neighborhoods where people have easy access to stores, school, and work without having to drive. And when we choose to develop around transit, we can curtail the development of far-flung suburbs that not only add to our traffic woes, but take up valuable open land that serves as wildlife habitat or a filter for rainwater, which would otherwise run off paved roads and parking lots and pollute water supplies.
And of course public transportation delivers even more environmental benefits when you factor in the carbon pollution and oil savings. An aggressive expansion of public transit in cities and suburbs could save 4 million gallons of oil each day by 2030. Land-use reforms, combined with investments in public transit and bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure could reduce carbon pollution by as much as 15 percent, according to a 2009 report.
Investing in public transit means building better communities, a stronger economy, and a healthier environment. It means more choice and more freedom for commuters, and less power to the oil monopoly. It is what Americans demand, and it is what we deserve--and it is time for Congress to deliver.
ELYRIA, OH—Claus Beyer has joined Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems LLC as its vice president and general manager, Brake Controls and Electronics Technology. He will focus on technical product development.
Beyer comes to Bendix with 27 years in the commercial vehicle and automotive industry. During his career, he served 13 years as a part of Robert Bosch GmbH in both the U.S. and Europe, followed by 14 years with the Knorr-Bremse Commercial Vehicle Group (KB SfN).
MILWAUKEE, WI—The Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS) has named Tracy Harrington its director of paratransit services.
Harrington has an MBA from Lakeland College and brings 15 years of experience in public transportation to MCTS. She most recently was director of transit operations for Waukesha Metro Transit in Waukesha, WI.
She succeeds Carmela Peot, who retired Sept. 1 after 25 years of service with MCTS.
Herbert E. Lambert
NEW YORK, NY—MTA New York City Transit (NYC Transit) has promoted Herbert E. Lambert to chief transportation operator, rapid transit operations. He has worked in the agency’s Department of Subways for more than 30 years and succeeds John Johnson, who retired earlier this year.
Lambert, a lifelong New Yorker, joined NYC Transit in 1981 as a train conductor. Rising through the ranks, he became a rail control center superintendent in 1993, then a general superintendent, control center, and senior director, rail operations support. Most recently, he was assistant chief transportation officer of the B Division (lettered lines), a job he held for the past year. He retained that position even after being named acting chief transportation officer in April, performing both simultaneously.
During his career, Lambert oversaw the operations of the Rail Control Center on Sept. 11, 2001, and helped direct the planned shutdown and resumption of subway service during August 2011’s Hurricane Irene.
WEST COVINA, CA—Foothill Transit has named Joseph Raquel director of planning following the promotion of LaShawn Gillespie to director of customer service and operations.
Raquel joined Foothill Transit in 2008 as its director of information technology.
William W. Fryer, James P. O'Keefe
ROCKY HILL, CT—William W. Fryer, P.E., and James P. O’Keefe have joined the Rocky Hill office of Gannett Fleming Transit & Rail Systems.
Fryer is a senior overhead catenary system (OCS) engineer responsible for providing design and analysis of OCSs, features, and structures. He has more than 24 years of experience.
O’Keefe is a senior signal designer responsible for coordinating signal design and construction of train control systems and systems integration. He brings more than 16 years of experience providing design-build systems integration, project leadership, construction services, and signal system analysis studies.
DENVER, CO—Dina Potter has joined the transportation practice of CH2M HILL, based in the Oakland, CA, office.
She previously worked for Jacobs Engineering as managing principal for transportation work in Northern California. She also led high-profile projects and expanded Carter & Burgess’ presence in the San Francisco Bay area in environmental and transit/transportation planning, engineering design, and program controls.
TORONTO, ON—Steer Davies Gleave announced the appointment of Dennis Fletcher, M.E.S., to its team in Toronto.
Fletcher joins the firm from GENIVAR, where he was director of transit solutions. He has experience in route planning, service standards, transit operations, and public consultation.
Tom Wagner, Lou Quaglia, Dan Kemper, Gary Pugsley, Guy Tessier
SCHAUMBURG, IL—MCI Public Sector has announced changes to territories and product representation of its sales force.
Tom Wagner, executive director of business development, will have responsibility for government markets in both the U.S. and Canada and day-to-day responsibility for the following employees:
Lou Quaglia, North East Region: Connecticut, Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania.
Dan Kemper, Central Region: Washington, DC, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia,West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, Missouri, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, and Toronto’s GO Transit.
Gary Pugsley, Western Region: California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, Montana, Wyoming, Alaska, Hawaii.
Guy Tessier, vice president of Canadian sales, and his team will be responsible for sales to public transit agencies throughout Canada.
Thomas E. Barron, Todd K. Wager
PASADENA, CA—Parsons has promoted Thomas E. (Tom) Barron director of strategic initiatives, effective Oct. 15. He is based in the company’s Washington, DC, office.
Barron joined Parsons in 1976 and has since held a succession of management positions throughout the corporation. He served most recently as president of Parsons Transportation Group Inc. (PTG), a primary business unit of Parsons Corporation.
Todd K. Wager will succeed Barron as president of PTG. He began his career with Parsons in 1996 in project management, and most recently was president of Parsons Government Services Inc., Parsons’ largest business unit. He works out of the corporate headquarters in Pasadena.
CINCINNATI, OH— Gina Stough has joined First Transit as director of learning and development. She is responsible for overseeing First Transit University, a training program for all First Transit managers to increase employee awareness and improve customer service techniques, as well as other efforts focused on internal talent development and training.
Stough has more than 15 years of non-profit and government sector experience in planning professional trainings, developing training curricula, and coaching management in employee relations and Equal Employment Opportunity compliance.
SANTA MONICA, CA—Santa Monica’s Big Blue Bus (BBB) announced the appointment of Suja Lowenthal as manager of transit government and community relations.
Lowenthal served most recently as urban and strategic planner with Urban Planning Associates and business development manager at MWH Inc. in its Municipal and State Services Group in Southern California.
She comes to BBB with more than 19 years private and public sector experience in management positions including chief of strategic planning and initiatives at the Water Replenishment District and government telations and public outreach manager for the Central & West Basin Municipal Water Districts. She is a member of the Long Beach City Council and the Board of Directors of the Metropolitan Water District.
GREENVILLE, SC—Joe Lunny has joined Proterra as a regional sales director serving the Southeastern U.S.
Lunny has more than 30 years of sales experience in the bus and trucking industry, including time spent with Transit Properties and New Flyer.
Carl J. Gandza, Ronald G. Swerdon
PHILADELPHIA, PA—Urban Engineers Inc. has named Carl J. Gandza senior civil designer/project manager in the firm’s Hartford, CT, office, and promoted Ronald G. Swerdon, CQPA, to the position of quality manager.
Gandza brings nearly 15 years of diverse transportation and traffic project experience to the position. He has been responsible for engineering, designing, and managing a wide range of transportation and traffic projects.
Swerdon has worked for Urban for almost 10 years, most recently as quality control specialist. He has performed project management oversight and construction management services for numerous clients before and during his work in the firm’s ISO management function.
HAUPPAUGE, NY—Patrick Lenihan, P.E., has joined VHB as a transportation team leader in the Traffic Engineering Group.
Lenihan has 22 years of experience working with New York State DOT, Nassau County Department of Public Works, Suffolk County Department of Public Works, municipalities, and private clients.
Mauro (Mac) Calcaño
DALLAS, TX--Mauro (Mac) Calcaño is the new vice president of human resources for Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART).
Calcaño has more than 30 years of senior leadership in human resources with such premier brands as Sara Lee Corp., Chiquita Brands International, and Timex Group USA Inc. For DART, he will direct, develop, and oversee programs and activities in employee recruitment and retention, employee benefits, organizational development, payroll processing, compensation, and wellness.
VIENNA, VA—David Chabanon has joined Delcan as a senior principal, to serve as the firm’s senior communications-based train control (CBTC) expert for U.S. rail and transit projects. He will also operate as Delcan’s business development lead for rail and transit signaling and train control.
Chabanon, originally from Paris, France, has more than 14 years of engineering experience and project management in the railway transit industry.