Passenger Transport - November 19, 2012
Photo by Eric Vance, UTA
The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) introduced service on its first line with elements of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), the Jeffery Jump, on Nov. 12. The line, funded with an $11 million FTA grant, replaces the former Jeffery Express route, while the Jeffery Local will continue to serve local stops.
The new service operates along Jeffery Boulevard between 103rd & Stony Island and Jefferson and Washington streets in downtown Chicago. It uses the first dedicated bus-only traffic lanes ever in Chicago, curbside between 67th and 83rd streets, and stops every half mile rather than the traditional quarter mile.
“The Jeffery Jump is a significant first step in offering faster, more reliable bus service for our passengers, shaving as much as 14 minutes off of a round-trip commute and for the same fare price as our traditional bus service,” said CTA President Forrest Claypool.
In 2013, CTA will introduce additional elements such as transit signal priority and queue jumps. Traffic signal priority equipment will be installed in traffic signals between 71st and 83rd streets to extend green lights for buses. A queue jump or bypass lane will help Jump buses advance through the intersection of Jeffery and Anthony, where traffic bottlenecks can occur. Jump buses will also be outfitted with on-board Bus Tracker with LED display screens.
BY MICHAEL P. MELANIPHY, APTA President & CEO
It is hard to believe that on Nov. 1, 2012, I celebrated my one-year anniversary as President & CEO of APTA. While it was a time for celebration and reflection, it was also the week when Hurricane Sandy crippled much of the Eastern Seaboard, severely challenging many public transportation systems.
Nothing could have prepared us for the work that lies ahead. But I have faith and I know how resilient our systems and our people are. Much of the work they are accomplishing is nothing short of heroic. I pledge APTA’s full support in helping them—and I know our members do as well.
This has been a year of challenges and successes. We were tested by the most overwhelming economic downturn since the Great Depression. We were tested by 10 federal funding extensions over three years and the efforts of some to remove public transit from the Highway Trust Fund altogether. And because of you, we passed these tests and achieved a multi-year, bipartisan authorization bill with MAP-21. I am the first to admit that some of these challenges resulted in difficult, sometimes suboptimal choices along the path to our overall success. They will not, however, dampen our resolve to continue to fight for positive outcomes for all of our members going forward.
And going forward, we will continue to collaborate with our many partners across a broad spectrum. Our coalition partners were instrumental in our eventual success with MAP-21. I want to thank our partners at FTA, FRA, and U.S. DOT for their access, support, and collaboration. It has also been rewarding to work with so many supportive members of Congress during this past year, and I look forward to building new relationships in the 113th Congress.
Throughout this year, I made it a point to meet many of you in cities small and large, areas both rural and urban. I had the opportunity to meet with our Canadian members and, more recently, many of our international partners in London and in Montreal. I welcomed invitations to speak at your conferences and meetings. You opened your offices and facility floors, and took me on tours of your systems. When I visited local agencies and companies, it was equally fulfilling to visit with operators in the yard as it was meeting with local board members. Along the way, I got to know you and, ultimately, our industry even better.
I am seeing first-hand what a difference you make in your communities across the globe, and how dedicated and adaptable you are.
We also were busy constantly improving and upgrading our myriad information channels. From a revised website that delivers breaking news, to a revolving homepage that highlights APTA members and staff, we’re using technology to bring you what you need—when you need it. And using your feedback from our recent member survey, we will keep making improvements.
With your help we held successful meetings and conferences throughout the year, to include the most recent: our Annual Meeting in Seattle.
We’ve taken our meetings up a level and we’ve made some changes. They are more interactive and inclusive. We’ve added many new speakers and networking opportunities, some specifically targeted to mid-level managers.
We led from a global perspective this year when, in June, more than 2,500 rail leaders convened in Philadelphia for the 8th World Congress on High-Speed Rail, which APTA co-hosted.
APTA’s role as a thought leader was reinforced when we and our members were invited to the White House on several occasions to discuss the industry and its advances.
Our efforts and our influence were again recognized when the highly regarded National Journal named the 15 most influential brands in Washington–and APTA was one of them. We share this honor with such esteemed organizations as Google and Apple!
I would like to thank the three APTA chairs that I have had the privilege of working with: Mike Scanlon, Gary Thomas, and most recently Flora Castillo. Each has been exceptionally supportive along this journey, and I sincerely appreciate their leadership, collaboration, and friendship. My thanks also go to the members of the APTA Executive Committee and Board of Directors. Additionally, I have the distinct pleasure of working with an incredible and hard-working staff of consummate professionals who give 100 percent every day, and care deeply about our members.
I also want to thank all the APTA members for their dedication and support over the last 12 months. Working on your behalf truly inspires me and drives me to work even harder for you each and every day.
I look forward to many great years ahead.
Speakers assemble at the annual BusCon Conference & Expo, top; Commuter Rail CEOs meet, center; and the Tennessee Public Transportation Association's Annual Meeting speakers are featured.
In recognition of the sacrifices and service given to the U.S. by its military veterans, many public transportation systems observed the Veterans Day holiday this year by paying tribute to these heroes in a variety of ways.
APTA sponsored Public Transportation Supports America’s Veterans Day, the goal of which was to bring greater awareness that public transportation jobs include skills veterans may already have obtained through their military service. Additionally, public transportation organizations already employ returning veterans.
The public transportation industry saluted and thanked U.S. veterans for their dedicated service and showed a commitment to recruiting veterans to careers in the public transit industry and connecting them, by public transit, to available services and resources.
“Nationally, our industry is seeking to hire veterans, many of whom have skills that match jobs in the public transportation industry,” said APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy. “We encourage veterans across the country to explore job opportunities at their local public transportation system. The skills that veterans have learned in the military may very well be transferable to a variety of jobs at a public transit system or a business that is part of the public transportation supply chain.”
Here are just some of the many activities.
Free Rides and Special Service
Several agencies invited veterans (and, in some cases, also active duty military and family members) to ride free on Veterans Day, including the Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority in Charleston, SC; the Fort Worth Transportation Authority (The T) in Fort Worth, TX; the North County Transit District (NCTD), Oceanside, CA; the Denton County Transportation Authority in Lewisville, TX; the San Joaquin Regional Transit District, Stockton, CA; and the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority, Tampa, FL.
The Antelope Valley Transit Authority (AVTA), Lancaster, CA, provides free rides to veterans every day of the year.
Other public transit systems helped take veterans to special events. In Boston, Massachusetts Bay Commuter Rail partnered with Military Friends to take veterans, service members, and families of the fallen to the New England Patriots-Buffalo Bills football game, riding on the Gold Star Memorial Coach decorated with the names of Massachusetts military personnel lost in Iraq and Afghanistan.
As part of a Commuter Advertising campaign, Applebee’s restaurants promoted their free entrée program for veterans in Dayton, OH; the Chicago area; Kansas City, MO; and Jacksonville, FL, through on-bus audio advertising. These messages were a bonus to a revenue-generating transit advertising contract Applebee’s signed in those markets.
In many places, public transportation provided special service to veterans’ events. Pace Suburban Bus, Arlington Heights, IL, participated in two job fairs for veterans. The Lane Transit District, Eugene, OR, operated a free shuttle to the Lane County Stand Down event for homeless veterans.
Los Angeles Metro supported the three-day San Gabriel Valley “Heroes in the Shadows” Homeless Veterans Stand Down in South El Monte, both by providing transportation to the event and providing organizers with Metro “Jobs for Veterans” contact cards. Metro also participated in the Veterans Appreciation Festival at the USS Iowa in San Pedro.
The San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District, Oakland, CA, provided marketing support to a veterans organization in Castro Valley, CA, which is planning a future “Stand Down” event to address the needs of homeless and at-risk veterans and their families.
MTA New York City Transit had planned a veterans’ recognition ceremony for Nov. 15 as Passenger Transport went to press.
AVTA participated in the region’s annual Antelope Valley Veterans Parade. The agency invited its employees and their family members to walk the parade route, with a local transit bus bringing up the rear.
The Area Transportation Authority of North Central Pennsylvania, Johnsonburg, PA, provided transportation support for a bridge dedication in its service area in Brookville, PA, incorporating the APTA Veterans logo into its dedication bus graphics. The bridge is now called the Jefferson County Purple Heart Bridge.
Many public transit agencies invited veterans to consider employment opportunities in the field and recognized agency employees with a military background.
First Transit, based in Cincinnati, has entered into a partnership with the U.S. Army’s Partnership for Youth Success program: a nationwide initiative with hundreds of corporate partners, offering potential jobs to returning or retiring soldiers.
The T in Fort Worth publicized the names and job responsibilities of all its employees who are military veterans or members of the National Guard or reserves—ranging from president to service station attendant.
In Louisville, KY, the Transit Authority of River City (TARC) honored employees who are veterans with a message board in the transportation lounge, showing photos and information such as branch and dates of service. TARC employees also made charitable contributions to help support the family of a veteran in the community.
Mountain Line Transit in Morgantown, WV, made a presentation about its T-OPS (Transportation Options for Veterans and Their Families) program. Veterans make up 25 percent of the agency’s current workforce, and Mountain Line invited veterans at the event to apply for job openings.
LYNX, Orlando, FL, collected stories from its employees’ military service and displayed them on buses, on banners and flyers throughout its facilities, through social media and on the agency’s internal Internet system.
The Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA), Orange, CA, employs approximately 125 veterans and honors them at an annual Veterans Day event. OCTA gives special recognition to employees whose children or grandchildren are currently serving or have served in the military.
Gold Coast Transit, Oxnard, CA, encouraged all veterans it employs to wear a cap or jacket that honored their military service during their shifts on Nov. 11 and 12.
OmniTrans, San Bernardino, CA, ran print and online ads listing its 89 veteran employees and quotes from selected veterans who ride the bus. It also provided information on how veterans can register online to receive job posting alerts and information on a future Bus Rapid Transit line that will serve a veterans’ health care facility.
The North County Transit District wrapped one of its Coaster commuter rail cars with a vinyl graphic that salutes the military.
LYNX showcased its employees who have served in the military.
Each year the Orange County Transportation Authority holds a Veteran's Day event commemorating the military service of its employees. At last year's event, an OCTA coach operator shows a photo of himself during his serving in the Vietnam War.
BY BARRINGTON M. SALMON, Special to Passenger Transport
Even as the presidential candidates were duking it out on the national stage, a number of public transit systems around the country were busy scoring wins of their own.
On Nov. 6, voters around the U.S. approved 14 of 20 transit ballot questions. For the year, voters passed 47 of 59 public transit ballot measures, a success rate of 80 percent.
Election Day saw public transportation victories in Orange County, NC; Richland County, SC; Virginia Beach, VA; Arlington, VA; Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, and Muskegon, MI; and Toledo, OH.
Voters in the California counties of Alameda and Los Angeles approved their ballot measures by 66 and 65 percent respectively: enough for a landslide victory everywhere else, but just a hair shy under California’s supermajority rules that require two-thirds of the vote for a tax measure to pass.
While 2012 did not have the multi-billion-dollar initiatives that occur from time to time, the results show strong support for public transit in communities large and small, north, south, east, and west.
This year’s ballot victories are a continuation of a decade-long trend. Since APTA and the Center for Transportation Excellence began tracking public transit ballot measures in the year 2000, the success rate overall has been over 72 percent with especially strong votes in recent years.
“Despite concerns about the economy, voters throughout the country at a rate of nearly 70 percent voted on Nov. 6 to pass pro-public transportation ballot initiatives,” said APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy.
“This successful trend of passing transit measures demonstrates that public transportation is a vital and essential service that people want and need. Even with economic concerns still on everyone’s minds, voters decided to pass taxes, create bonding, or take other actions to improve or maintain public transportation,” he added.
The Biggest Winning Initiatives
Voters in Orange County, NC, approved a half-cent sales tax for local and regional public transit. This follows last year’s successful half-cent sales tax measure for improved public transportation in Durham County, NC, by creating larger, regional public transit services in the Research Triangle area of the state, which includes Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill.
Projects to be funded by this tax will include a light rail connection from the University of North Carolina to Duke University and downtown Durham; and new and improved local and regional bus service, and an Amtrak intercity rail station. The measure, which passed by 59-41 percent, will bring in $5 million a year.
In Richland County, SC, voters passed a 1-cent sales tax increase to support expansion of bus service at the Central Midlands Regional Transit Authority. The measure passed by a 53-47 percent margin.
The tax will also support major road improvements, bike lanes, greenways, and a $63 million railroad location project. The initiative provides $1.07 billion over a 22-year period. The money will be raised in charges for most purchases, including groceries. Collection begins on May 1, 2013.
County officials say that if the measure reaches the $1 billion level before 22 years have passed, they will stop collecting the tax.
In Arlington County, VA, 80 percent of voters passed a bond for nearly $32 million that will support a number of public transit projects, including capital projects for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA).
The largest share of the bond—$14 million—will pay the county’s share of WMATA capital improvements, including a program to improve regional mobility and accessibility and relieve traffic congestion. This proposal also provides matching funds for certain transportation projects that receive state and federal funding.
Not all successful public transit-related initiatives involved raising new funds: three ballot measures that would have eliminated service in their municipalities all were defeated.
By a rate of 70 percent, voters in Falmouth, ME, opposed ending METRO services after Dec. 31, 2013. Fifty-nine percent of voters in Spencer Township, OH, voted against withdrawing from the Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority. In Walker, MI, 73 percent of voters defeated a measure that would have discontinued service by the Interurban Transit Partnership.
Two additional public transit measures will be decided in Los Angeles, CA, and Kansas City, MO, next month.
The Bigger Picture: Some State Proposals
Voters in Alaska approved Proposition A by a 57-43 percent margin. The vote authorizes a $454.5 million general obligation bond issue for a range of transportation, highway, and other projects.
Arkansas’ new half-cent sales tax provides additional funding for surface transportation, state highways, county roads, city streets, and bridges. Issue 1 was approved by 58 percent of the state’s voters.
And in Maine, Question 4, a $51.5 million transportation bond issue, garnered 72 percent of voter support.
More Approved Initiatives
Voters in Virginia Beach, VA, approved a measure granting the city council the latitude to study whether to bring light rail to the city. The margin was 62 percent in favor and 38 percent opposed.
William Harrell, president and chief executive CEO of Hampton Roads Transit (HRT), said that although no money was attached to the referendum, its significance can’t be overstated. He credited the success of The Tide, HRT’s light rail system in Norfolk, for the renewed interest in light rail for Virginia Beach.
“The referendum suggests that the city further study the issue—the financial feasibility,” he said. “What it means for us is that the performance of The Tide has spoken loudly that public transportation can be safe, affordable, and reliable. People are beginning to buy into the value of this type of transportation and are more interested in considering this as an option.”
Harrell said HRT is working with FTA and other entities to produce data and information for a possible new light rail line, as well as alternatives analysis. Questions to be answered include which mode—bus, rapid transit, light rail, or an enhanced bus system—would be best for the corridor, along with ridership projections, cost, and the location of stations.
The Tide recently marked its two millionth boarding, Harrell said: “It’s very popular. Every time we have special events, easily, the first question is when it’s going to be extended.”
He added that ridership levels have shattered all expectations: FTA projected daily ridership of 2,900, but the system transports more than 5,500 riders a day.
Harrell said the city of Norfolk has asked HRT to study the possibility of extending service to the Norfolk Naval Station, the largest in the world and home port of the Atlantic Fleet.
“It’s still very early in the process, but we’ll be seeing what’s possible and where we could extend. This speaks to the region’s confidence in light rail,” he said.
In Kalamazoo, MI, Metro Transit Director Bill Schomisch said he was elated that voters approved renewal of a 0.6-mill property tax that will support the agency’s operations from 2013- 2015.
“It is expected to generate about $1,024,425 annually,” Schomisch said. “The levy was first approved in 1986 and has been successfully renewed each time it has gone back on the ballot. I’m very pleased with the support of community, very pleased.”
He said the system operates 36 fixed route buses along with paratransit services for customers with disabilities and a countywide demand-response system. The Nov. 6 ballot initiative was the first of two millage requests designed to finance public transit operations.
The Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority (DART) recently cut the ribbon on the new $21 million DART Central Station, ushering in the “next generation of public transit in Greater Des Moines”—in the words of Steve Van Oort, mayor of Ankeny and chair of the DART Commission.
The station will enter service on Nov. 23.
DART Central Station will replace the current Walnut Street Transit Mall, providing a superior transit facility with real-time departure information, sheltered boarding platforms, and other amenities. At the same time, DART is launching a redesigned and expanded network of bus routes aimed at serving thousands more people by going more places more often, with faster travel times.
“This investment to our transit infrastructure will put people to work, help commuters travel efficiently throughout the city, and boost economic development,” Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) said at the event. “I have long supported federal funding for this effort to ease travel for Iowans who rely on public transportation, and I will continue to work to provide federal assistance for public transit crucial for so many in central Iowa.”
Jay Byers, chief executive officer of the Greater Des Moines Partnership, said the new station will serve as the cornerstone for an ongoing renaissance in the region’s public transit system.
Funding for the station project included $16.5 million in federal grants and a $4 million state IJOBS grant.
The entrance to DART Central Station in downtown Des Moines.
MTA Metro-North Railroad has announced completion of the reconstruction of Tarrytown Station, the second busiest station on the Hudson Line—under budget, on schedule after three years of work, and with no impact on train performance. The station serves about 6,000 people a day traveling from Westchester and Rockland counties in New York State.
The reconstruction project received $36 million in funding from the MTA Capital Program with a grant under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
“Together with a separate project that restored the historic station building, the installation of terrific artwork by Holly Sears, the expansion of the waterfront park, and the construction of a major residential development underway next door, I believe this train station is a nexus for development and prosperity in this bustling riverfront village,” said Metro-North President Howard Permut.
“The Tarrytown railroad station is one of the busiest in Westchester County because of its proximity to the Tappan Zee Bridge, and so I am tremendously pleased that the reconstruction project here is completed,” said Westchester County legislator Alfreda Williams. “Residents and business owners commuting north and south will be well served by this beautifully renovated facility, and the leadership of the MTA Metro-North Railroad is to be commended for making this important investment in its infrastructure.”
The project included replacement of all station elements. For example, the new overpasses feature Sears’ artwork. “Hudson River Explorers” comprises 36 laminated glass panels depicting above-water and underwater riverscapes, each populated by groups of creatures including bobcats and house cats, polar bears and black bears, white-tailed deer, ducks, shad, seahorses and sturgeon, hawks and owls, herons and swallows, and more.
Metro-North replaced Tarrytown’s two existing elevators and installed a third to serve the large west side parking area, also replacing the staircases serving the overpasses and those that connect platforms to sidewalks.
Complementing the station project is an extensive landscaping installation featuring hardy, low-maintenance flowering shrubs, holly, grasses, and Black-Eyed Susans.
A separate $2 million project provided for full restoration of the historic Tarrytown Station, in continuous use since it was built in 1890 by the New York Central and Hudson River Railroad. It received a new slate roof, gutters, and canopy supports, as well as the reconstruction of three dormer windows eliminated during roof work decades ago.
Monterey-Salinas Transit (MST) in Monterey, CA, welcomed DOT Secretary Ray LaHood Nov. 12 to grand opening ceremonies for the first completed high-tech bus shelter on the new JAZZ Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) line.
The new route entered service Sept. 1, serving temporary stations. It is expected to cut commuting times roughly in half for riders on existing bus service and improve public transit connections for thousands of active-duty military, hospitality workers, and tourists traveling to Cannery Row, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and other attractions.
“This new Bus Rapid Transit line will give residents and tourists a safer, more efficient option for getting to work, to school, or wherever they need to go,” said LaHood. “And it is fitting that we are celebrating its start as we honor our nation’s heroes, with so many area military families who can take advantage of the new line. Providing our military and veterans with safe, reliable transportation options is the least we can do to thank them for their service.”
Joining LaHood at the event were Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA), Sand City Mayor David Pendergrass, and local officials.
The JAZZ BRT system will operate on a 6.75-mile route between Sand City Station and the aquarium, traveling through Seaside, where many public transit-dependent hospitality workers reside.
Monterey County is also home to roughly 16,000 active-duty and civilian military personnel, including those stationed at Monterey’s U.S. Coast Guard station. MST reported that military ridership on its non-BRT bus service grew by more than 300 percent between 2010 and 2012. Additional BRT stops will open near area military facilities, as well as other local employment centers and area attractions.
In a statement, FTA Administrator Peter M. Rogoff said: “The Monterey JAZZ line is a great example of BRT done right and an effective way to reduce commuting times for thousands who live and work in Monterey, Seaside, and Sand City. Traffic signals will be timed to help BRT vehicles and drivers alike to reach work or home faster, which improves the quality of life for everyone who would prefer to spend less time in traffic.”
FTA has committed $2.77 million to the $5 million project through its Small Starts capital program, with the balance coming from California state and local funds.
In keeping with the name of the new service, MST is partnering with the Monterey Jazz Festival to make jazz concert recordings from past festival performances available for download at the new Sand City Station and 24 new bus shelters along the JAZZ route.
DOT Secretary Ray LaHood, center, attends opening ceremonies for the first bus shelter on MST’s JAZZ line. At left is Rep. Sam Farr and at right is MST General Manager/Chief Executive Officer Carl Sedoryk.
As part of its Metro Arts in Transit Program, Metro in St. Louis invited participants in the recent Green Homes and Great Health Festival at the Missouri Botanical Garden to paint a MetroBus with eco-murals designed by local artist Eric Stevens. The mural will stay on the bus for a year, operating on various routes throughout the service area as part of Metro’s Art Bus Fleet. “Children love to paint, especially when it is on a giant metal canvas,” said David Allen, director of the Metro Arts in Transit Program. “They are so excited when they are handed a paintbrush and a cup of paint. Painting a MetroBus lets them have fun creating art without getting into trouble for painting on surfaces they are not normally allowed to paint on!”
What are the three job elements you focus on the most—your primary responsibilities?
Accuracy, timeliness, and attention to detail.
I manage the accounts payable process—supervising one staff person. I review all payment requests and make sure we have the appropriate documentation and authorization. At APTA, every request needs a program code so we know where it fits in the budget before we can issue payment. These disbursements go to association members, outside creditors, and APTA staff.
I was recently promoted to senior accountant and assumed oversight of APTA’s grant management process. APTA receives federal grant funding for various association activities. It is my responsibility to monitor these projects and ensure that APTA is compliant with federal audit requirements. Each month, we provide status reports that allow program managers to track spending on these projects and secure additional funding as appropriate.
Do you have direct contact with APTA members? If so, please talk about recent times you’ve helped out a member.
I get a lot of phone calls from members, but they are not usually related to my work. We work as a group in the accounting department, so if people have questions—say, about membership dues—they just call the department. When I get one of these calls, I verify the caller’s information and determine who on the staff should get the call: one person handles membership dues, while another takes care of invoices. We want to make sure the caller speaks to the right person.
What initiatives, projects, or programs have you worked on at APTA that you have taken particular pride in completing?
I have worked on the budget preparation process since 2009—a huge project. We receive a lot of financial data from all APTA departments; my job is to verify the information and enter it in the Excel templates. From experience, I know that APTA spends a lot of money on meetings for our many members. We try to minimize expenses, but always want to provide services that our members expect from us.
This project involves a lot of information and is very time-consuming. We begin the budgeting effort in January each year but don’t complete it until May—five months. Once we balance the budget, everyone at APTA breathes a sigh of relief.
How did you “land” at APTA? How long have you worked here?
I completed my master of business administration degree in 2008 in Washington, DC, and began looking for a full-time position. I saw an ad for a staff accountant in The Washington Post and applied. I will celebrate my fifth anniversary with APTA in March 2013.
Have you held other jobs in the public transportation industry (besides working at APTA)?
What professional affiliations do you have?
None at this time, but I’m working on the Certified Public Accountant exam. That is going to be a major goal for 2013.
Could you tell us something about yourself that might surprise us?
I lost almost 30 pounds within 10 months in 2010. My weight was down to 170 pounds. I didn’t think I could lose all that weight, but I did—in less than a year. When I saw the number on the scale, I realized I’d done it. The bad news is that I will have to do the same thing again, since I gained some weight back.
I came to the U.S. from China in 2005, when I was 26. My girlfriend came to the U.S. first and got a job here. I finally decided we couldn’t live in different countries for a long period of time, so I moved to the U.S. after graduation, to attend graduate school. We’re married now and have a lovely daughter, Chloe Deng. She is almost 16 months old and is getting ready to explore this new world!
Make sure you see Dan Deng’s video, now that you've read this!
President, The Alexander Group, Alexandria, VA
Consultant to Los Alamos Technical Associates, Inc.
Past APTA Chair
Member, APTA Board of Directors
Member, Leadership APTA Committee
Member, Member Services Committee
How many people do you employ? More than 500
How long have you worked in the public transportation industry? 45 years
How long have you been a member of APTA? 40 years
What drew you to a career in public transportation?
I never really thought about public transportation until I was elected to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors in 1964. Then I was appointed to the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission and that led to my appointment to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority Board of Directors. That was during the time when we were designing and building the Metro system in the region. That is how I started—and it has led me to a very successful career in public transportation.
What have you found to be the most valuable APTA benefit or resource—that helps you do your job?
The networking and contacts with the many members of APTA: public transit systems, business members, FTA and the great staff work and support work from APTA, as well as the many APTA committees that tackle critical issues and produce workable solutions. The APTA meetings also allow a person to make business contacts and address the major transportation issues of the day, and this includes the issues addressed by the Business Member Board of Governors. APTA has been a great benefit to me personally and also to LATA. And I must mention being honored as a member of the APTA Hall of Fame.
Please explain why or how this has helped.
First, being active in APTA has allowed me to serve as vice chair and chair of APTA during some of the critical times in our industry. One of the most important missions at APTA is to encourage new and younger experienced leadership in our industry. The Leadership APTA program has been one of the most successful ventures that APTA has undertaken and I treasure the time I have spent working with our up-and-coming transit and business managers.
What do you like most about your job?
Well, I do business development and marketing for LATA. That allows me to make many contacts with public transit systems all over the U.S. and work with all the transit officials that I know, as well as many transit-related businesses, and I also coordinate projects with our LATA technical staff. I am a people person and I love my job.
What is unique about your agency or business that readers would be surprised to learn?
LATA is a service disabled veteran-owned engineering and information consulting firm founded in 1976. They started out with the designing, installation, and operation of highly specialized systems and processes for handling nuclear material. Since that time, they have moved into providing rail and bus systems wireless information and customer service options such as GPS, location and automated passenger announcements, security and video surveillance, Wi-Fi for trains, buses, and stations, as well as control center work stations and networks.
On a personal note, readers may be surprised to learn that I have been flying airplanes since I was 16 years old and I also have a Metro station named after me: the Joe Alexander Transportation Center at Springfield-Franconia on the Blue Line in Virginia.
Make sure you see Joe Alexander’s video, now that you've read this!
APTA will recognize the outstanding work of the men and women in the rail industry with the creation of its new Rail Safety & Security Excellence Awards. The APTA Executive Committee approved the awards program at its meeting during the APTA Annual Meeting in Seattle.
This new program is similar to the longstanding awards program for bus transportation members to recognize excellence in safety and security. It was developed over the last two years in collaboration with the APTA Rail Safety Committee, Awards Committee, Rail Transit CEOs Subcommittee, and Commuter Rail CEOs Subcommittee.
The awards will recognize passenger rail transportation providers for the first time and, more importantly, provide a platform for benchmarking successful programs as industry-leading effective practices. Many other APTA members will have the opportunity to base their own initiatives in support of safety and security objectives on these award-winning programs.
“The Rail Safety & Security Awards are a significant addition to our recognition programs,” said APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy. “It is important that we recognize the work of our rail professionals in making our systems safe and secure.”
Rail transportation systems that operate commuter/intercity service, light rail/streetcar, and/or heavy rail operations are encouraged to submit a nomination describing their innovative or effective program or project and the benefits derived from it.
More information on the awards program, and instructions on how to apply, are available here. Nominations are due no later than close of business March 15, 2013.
APTA members are reminded that March 15, 2013, is also the nomination deadline for the Bus Safety & Security Excellence Awards. More information on these awards, including past winning submissions, can be found here.
APTA has scheduled the 2013 Transit CEOs Seminar for Feb. 9-12 at the Renaissance Palm Springs in Palm Springs, CA, hosted by the SunLine Transit Agency.
With federal surface transportation legislation enacted in 2012, planning for the next federal authorization begun, and overall ridership “up,” this seminar focuses on forward-thinking strategies. Discussions will highlight funding and financing ideas, how public transit is driving economic development, leading when in a crisis mode, Buy America, labor trends, and working with many different publics.
Highlights of the seminar will include a breakfast session for chief executive officers who assumed that responsibility within the past year, hosted by APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy; luncheon breakout discussions organized by agency size; a roundtable with Melaniphy and APTA Chair Flora M. Castillo; a General Session about the APTA Peer Review process; and CEO peer-to-peer presentations.
New this year is a separate track of study for “deputy CEOs”—direct reports and senior executives with job titles such as assistant general manager, senior director, and vice president—who would like to attain a chief executive position in public transportation. Sessions focusing on “management style” will introduce participants to delegation techniques and presentation skills. Also, small discussion groups will bring together CEOs and senior executives/deputies.
Information about the seminar program is available from Lynne Morsen or online.
APTA reminds public transit system call center personnel to register by Dec. 20 for the sixth annual Call Center Challenge, a national competition to determine the best in the industry. The competition defines these individuals as employees who handle incoming calls relating to trip planning and/or customer service issues.
All applicants who meet the eligibility requirements will receive a time for a pre-election phone interview with a panel of APTA member judges, tentatively scheduled for Jan. 8 and 9, 2013.
At the conclusion of all phone interviews, the judges will select seven finalists to compete in the national competition in Los Angeles. The event, to be held in front of a live audience, is part of the 2013 APTA Marketing and Communications Workshop, Feb. 24-27.
Judges will present finalists with three randomly selected customer service scenarios; contestants will be assessed on their ability to respond well to each inquiry. The participant with the highest score, as determined by the APTA judging panel, will be named public transportation’s best telephone customer information agent.
All interested personnel must complete and return the official Call Center Challenge application, available online. For more information, contact Laticia King.
The American Public Transit Foundation (APTF) invites young public transportation professionals to help with the efforts of its Scholar Task Force, established in 2010 to spread the message of public transit as an interesting and important career choice.
APTF has provided more than 100 scholarships to college undergraduate and graduate students since its founding in 1988. However, the coming retirement of the baby boom generation means that public transit career positions are becoming more available. The task force reaches out to high school and college students to make them aware that this sector offers diverse career opportunities that also provide a meaningful way to help their own communities.
The task force is working with APTA to develop a new Early Career program and seeks input from potential applicants: public transit professionals with three to five years of work experience and one to three years in some sort of management. This program is planned to consist of orientation and capstone sessions and a year-long mentorship program that will focus on transit education, skill building, and networking.
More information is available from the task force chair, David Ledwitz.
APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy, foreground right, and Chief of Staff Petra Mollet were guests at a recent meeting of the International Association of Public Transport (UITP) Policy Board in London. The board brings together public transit leaders from around the globe. Melaniphy and Mollet also obtained an in-depth view on Transport for London, the local transportation authority.
John Danish, Robert Strauss, Faye Moses-Wilkins, Richard Carrizales, Paul N. Wageman
DALLAS, TX—The Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) Board of Directors has re-elected John Danish, an Irving attorney, its chair. He joined the board in 2005 after serving Irving as a city councilman, deputy mayor pro tem, and chairman of the Irving Planning and Zoning Commission.
Dallas attorney Robert Strauss, also appointed to the board in 2005, was re-elected vice chair.
Faye Moses-Wilkins, who represents Plano and Farmers Branch, was elected secretary and Dallas member Richard Carrizales was re-elected assistant secretary. Wilkins, named to the board in 1999, is president of The Wilkins Group Inc., a telecommunications and systems integration firm based in Richardson. The Dallas City Council appointed Carrizales, an attorney in private practice, in 2010.
Board officers serve one-year terms.
Also, Paul N. Wageman, a shareholder of Winstead PC, has joined the DART Board of Directors representing the city of Plano. Wageman stepped down from the North Texas Tollway Authority Board of Directors in 2010 after 10 years of service, serving as its chairman for the last four years.
SALEM, OR—Salem-Keizer Transit announced the promotion of Pamela Ramirez to customer service representative. She joined the agency as a part-time receptionist in January 2012.
Ramirez is fluent in Spanish and is expected to help make public transit information more accessible to the region’s Latino community.
Before joining the agency, she worked in customer service for for the Adult and Family Services/Child Protective Services Division in California.
SCHAUMBURG, IL—Lee Kemp has joined MCI’s Public Sector Team as business development manager, Southern Region. He will represent the company to public sector accounts in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Tennessee, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Colorado.
Kemp was formerly Western Region sales manager for Daimler Buses North America, receiving the 2010 North American Salesman of the Year Award. Prior to that, he had a 17-year career with Stewart & Stevenson, a 110-year old manufacturer and provider of specialized equipment to a number of industries. He began his public transportation career as a master mechanic with Denver’s Regional Transportation District (RTD), earning promotions and, eventually, responsibility for fleet operations quality control.
He currently is in his fifth consecutive term as chairman of the RTD Board of Directors, on which he has served since 2005. Kemp received APTA’s 2012 Outstanding Public Transportation Board Member award at the recent APTA Annual Meeting in Seattle.
OAKLAND, CA—AC Transit has named David Wilkins, a veteran of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, as program director for its Bus Rapid Transit program.
Wilkins retired from the U.S. Army Reserve with the rank of lieutenant colonel after a 25-year career. He served an 11-month tour as the base engineer and director of public works at Bagram Air Force Base, the largest U.S. military base in Afghanistan.
He also has worked as program manager and project leader for numerous other ventures, most recently as the Western Regional director for Luster National Inc., an international firm that specializes in the management of capital improvement programs.
Thomas P. Klin, Patrick King
NEW YORK, NY—CH2M HILL announced the promotion of nine-year employee Thomas P. Klin to vice president and Northeast geographic manager and the hiring of Patrick King as vice president and director of the firm’s ports and maritime business. Both are based in the company’s New York City office.
Klin most recently led the CH2M HILL integration of the Halcrow acquisition in North America. Prior to this assignment, he served as CH2M HILL’s transportation operations director for Latin America. He also has 13 years experience as a state regulator in coastal management and an environmental planning consultant for transportation projects.
King previously was a member of the Halcrow Maritime Global Management Team and technical director for the organization’s Engineering Divers Group. He brings more than 20 years of experience managing a wide variety of inspection, design, and construction projects.