Passenger Transport - December 14, 2012
Cutting the ribbon at DART’s new North Lake College Station in Irving, TX, are, from left, Gary Thomas, DART president/executive director; Christa Slejko, North Lake College president; Chris Fulmer, station artist for North Lake College Station and a former North Lake College art professor; Dan Matkin, former DART board member from Irving and former Irving mayor; Don Jensen, Greater Irving-Las Colinas Chamber Transportation Management Association Member; Huelon Harrison, representing KSWRP, the contractor that built the DART Orange Line; and Dan Vedral, city of Irving director of transportation.
The Utah Transit Authority (UTA) in Salt Lake City celebrated the opening of FrontRunner commuter rail service between Provo and Salt Lake City with ceremonies in both cities. Passengers had their first opportunity to ride the new line on Dec. 8, with regular service beginning Dec. 10.
“Building transit is building your neighborhood,” UTA General Manager Michael Allegra said at the event at Salt Lake Central Station. “At the end of the day, this is for future generations. People are going to look back and thank everyone here.”
During the Provo event, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert added: “The vision is the reality as we’ve become the fastest-growing state in America, and the need to have mass transit capability is part and parcel of having a good quality of life. I applaud the UTA for what they’ve done to get us to this point. It’s two years under time in its completion and 10 percent under budget, which is kind of the Utah way.”
The new line is 45 miles long with seven new stations, bringing the length of the entire FrontRunner system to 89 miles from Provo to Pleasant View. It cost $850 million, funded completely through local sources.
Passengers on Dec. 8 rode free by donating non-perishable food items through a “Food for Your Fare” drive; they brought in more than 10 tons of food for the Utah Food Bank and Community Action Services and Food Bank. UTA reported about 32,300 boardings that day, compared with 6,800 projected average weekday boardings, and approximately 6,700 boardings on the first day of regular service, Dec. 10.
Crowds gathered at the Provo Station for UTA’s FrontRunner grand opening ceremonies.
APTA Chair Flora Castillo, left, was invited to a White House holiday reception where she had the opportunity to meet Julie Rodriguez, center, White House liaison for Latino affairs, and Bryna Helfer, Director of Public Engagement, DOT. President and Mrs. Obama spoke to the guests.
Photos by Mitch Wood
Chief executives of public transportation agencies in New York and New Jersey reported on the impact of Hurricane Sandy to their operations at a Dec. 6 hearing of the Senate Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety, and Security. Panelists included: left photo, New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman of the Board and CEO Joseph Lhota, left, and Patrick Foye, executive director, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey; and right photo, James Weinstein, executive director, New Jersey Transit Corporation.
This past week, APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy, at right, attended the International Union of Railways (UIC) General Assembly in Paris on the occasion of its 90th anniversary. With him are UIC Director-General Jean-Pierre Loubineaux, left, and FRA Administrator Joseph Szabo. Melaniphy also gave a presentation at the Asociación Latinoamericana de Metros y Subterráneos (ALAMYS) in Madrid.
Metro Transit in Minneapolis-St. Paul and the Minnesota Valley Transit Authority (MVTA) in Burnsville have a new bus transfer site in St. Paul, MN: historic Union Depot, which opened to the public Dec. 8 for the first time in 40 years. Following a $243 million restoration, the station—owned by the Ramsey County Regional Railroad Authority (RCRRA)—is now a state-of-the-art multimodal regional transportation hub with provisions for future additional modes.
Regular bus service began Dec. 10, with Metro Transit and MVTA providing about 325 local and express bus trips each day.
“Explore. Experience. Embark. The Journey Begins Again” was the theme of the day-long community celebration Dec. 8. The depot, including its 27,000-square-foot waiting room, was the site of historical performances and reenactments by Bedlam Theatre; live performances by artists, musicians, and dancers; food from area restaurants; and an information fair showcasing transportation features of the newly reopened station.
Completed in 1923, Union Depot provided passenger and freight railroad services for both the Twin Cities and the state of Minnesota. Located in downtown St. Paul near the Mississippi River, the depot is a complex of facilities and elements that served some 282 trains and 20,000 passengers daily in the 1920s. It stopped providing passenger rail service in 1971 and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.
Future modes of public transit expected to serve the depot include Amtrak passenger rail to Chicago and the Pacific Northwest; Jefferson Lines intercity bus service and casino shuttles; and Metro Transit’s Central Corridor Light Rail Line. The facility also will host a state-of-the-art bicycle center. Upon completion, the depot will be ready to accommodate future commuter rail lines, as well as proposed high-speed rail to Chicago.
“Today we celebrate an important milestone for Union Depot,” said RCRRA Chair and Ramsey County Commissioner Jim McDonough at the Dec. 8 event. “Construction is completed, the public again has access to this grand neoclassical structure, and Union Depot will return to its original purpose of being a regional destination and transportation hub.”
Restoration of the depot, located on a 33-acre site along the Mississippi River, included returning its original 1920s color scheme through complete repainting and plaster restoration of the waiting room and head house; reconstruction of the carriageway; and returning the Fourth Street entrance to its original design. In addition, new construction involved rebuilding the train deck and tracks and building a new multilevel passenger drop-off entrance with ticketing and baggage counters.
Photo by Steve Glischinski
Crowds gather Dec. 8 in the vast waiting room of St. Paul’s Union Depot to celebrate the reopening of the historic facility.
FTA invites public transportation professionals to participate in a national online dialogue on Transit Asset Management (TAM), which began Dec. 12 and continues through Jan. 4, 2013.
The Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) law sets forth new asset management requirements for all providers of public transportation services that receive grant assistance from FTA. This dialogue will provide public transportation stakeholders with an opportunity to provide comments to FTA on certain TAM requirements in MAP-21 in advance of FTA beginning a related rulemaking process. Comments will also be taken when the
rulemaking is published in the Federal Register.
The dialogue is free, open to the general public, and accessible at all times.
Once the online dialogue has closed, a report will be made available highlighting the full range of comments and suggestions, including which ideas were most popular.
To register, click here. More information is available here.
Metro Transit in Minneapolis-St. Paul brings color and light to the holidays with its Twinkle Bus, which participates in the Target Holidazzle Parade in Minneapolis Thursday-Sunday evenings through Dec. 23. The agency sponsored the Dec. 8 parade. The bus is decorated with more than 23,000 LED lights—done in-house by mechanics Terry Kinchliffe and Mike Prudhomme—as part of an illuminated celebration of the city and the season that dates back to 1992, featuring colorful displays, costumes, music, and dancing.
Raymond V. Lanman, 68, vice president, corporate development, for Herzog Transit Services Inc. in St. Joseph, MO, died Dec. 4 at his home following a seven-year battle with cancer.
Lanman was a board member of the High Speed Ground Transportation Association at the time it integrated its members and assets into the APTA structure through formation of the High-Speed & Intercity Passenger Rail Committee. He chaired that committee from 2006-2008, after six years as its vice chair, and remained a member of that committee and the Commuter Rail Committee until his death.
Before joining Herzog, Lanman was assistant vice president of corporate development for Amtrak.
“Ray was an icon for doing business the right way,” said Bob Smith, president, Herzog Transit Services. “His reputation as one of the industry’s best and brightest followed him throughout his career, and he was trusted and loved by those who had the opportunity to do business with him.”
“Ray Lanman was the quiet giant of the intercity and high-speed rail movement,” said Rod Diridon, another past chair of the committee. “His caring and strategic excellence guided the transfer of the old HSGTA into the current, massive, and effective APTA High-Speed & Intercity Passenger Rail Committee.”
BY FLORA CASTILLO, Board Member, New Jersey Transit Corporation,Newark, NJ, and APTA Chair, 2012-2013
First, let me say how proud I am to be APTA’s Chair at this exhilarating time in our association’s history. We stand at the edge of great change, growth and promise.
Throughout the year, you, our APTA members have given your time, energy and passion to the industry. I hope as we step into the New Year that you will continue to push APTA to new heights.
My first months as APTA Chair have been very busy and I’m looking forward to the next nine months working with Michael, the APTA staff and our many members.
I am grateful for the experience I’ve gained serving for the past 13 years on the board of NJ Transit. It has served me well, giving me exposure to all aspects of the industry. It has also afforded me a deep respect for the thousands of dedicated men and women who provide vital services every day for the people who depend on them.
Since being appointed in 1999, one of the areas I have been determined to have an impact in is to bring people from a variety of ethnicities and backgrounds into the public transportation industry.
Seeking out, attracting, and preparing the next generation of public transit leaders makes sense. Above and beyond it being the right thing to do, it produces a win-win scenario for all concerned. As we face a wave of retirements and the loss of vital institutional knowledge over the next decade, it’s imperative that we create a pool of qualified individuals, while putting in place the mechanisms to sustain them.
We must act quickly and swiftly to educate, mentor, and coach individuals to become future leaders and employees of our industry. But the process itself makes us stronger too, by developing a diverse, inclusive group of employees which in turn opens us up to new, rich and vibrant ideas, possibilities and experiences.
If we hope to maintain a competitive edge, we must attract, retain and develop the best talent in the marketplace. We are a global organization so it is imperative that we continue to develop those broad skill sets needed to even better serve our members. To do this effectively, we need a diverse workforce.
In fact, workforce development is one of my key goals as APTA Chair. It is one which I vow to continue advancing as much as I can during my tenure, and thereafter. APTA has made workforce development a priority, starting with the Blue Ribbon Panel. And over the last year, I chaired the Workforce Development Task Force to address any changes in the workforce and review our strategy to date.
We cannot continue business as usual.
We must take bold, decisive actions to bury the status quo. Our commitment to investing in human capital development gives us the ability to demonstrate to our employees and stakeholders, our obligation to customers and the industry at large.
Now is the time for action because human capital development is at the very core of our individual and collective futures. We are launching an “Early Career” Mid-Level Managers Development and Mentoring Program in Spring 2013 to fill a major gap identified by the task force. APTA is positioned to provide “sustainable,” ongoing and enhanced leadership to the industry on this important issue. As an initial step, I am creating an “APTA Center on Human Capital Investment,” which will provide an enhanced website presence, combined with webinars, roundtables and summits to promote best practices, and address skill gap shortages. Moving forward, we will continue to focus on how best to invest in human capital through model programs and other resources.
Another area that requires our immediate attention is authorization. I’m pleased we were able to create a new Authorization Task Force that met for the first time on Dec. 7. And with a bill that expires less than two years from now, we are already starting to build consensus among the APTA membership about what the next bill should look like.
A third area is geared toward our customers. We must elevate awareness of how public transportation serves as a bridge for them to a better life and more opportunities. This year we plan to work with non-traditional partners to show how public transit can increase access to critical health services. I hope to use my experience in the public healthcare field to reach out to organizations such as health-related associations and insurance companies to get them engaged in our mission.
We will also work to grow our grassroots transportation advocates. We will launch an initiative that will leverage APTA’s social media platforms and communications efforts to build a stronger grassroots community. I am passionate about the importance of advocacy, and I know we can build an army of advocates in every corner of our country.
All of the areas I’ve mentioned are in keeping with my theme for the year that “It’s all about the people.”
The idea of us being part of a community and the need for us to overcome our differences and barriers—real or imagined—for our mutual benefit is one that resonates deeply with me. I am in awe of the community of men and women who work at, and are associated with, APTA. APTA is privileged to have such dedicated, talented and hardworking members, partners, and staff who share the common goal of advancing all that is good about public transportation.
I don’t have a crystal ball to peer into the future, but I am confident that as we say goodbye to 2012 and hello to the New Year we will succeed in our goals.
Centre Area Transportation Authority (CATA)
State College, PA
How many people are employed at your agency?
CATA currently has 153 employees: 103 drivers, 19 in maintenance, and 31 who either work in management or provide administrative support.
How long have you worked in the public transportation industry?
How long have you been an APTA member?
That entire time. I have attended APTA conferences for most of the time I’ve worked here and have been a member of the Marketing & Communications Committee for many years. I received the American Public Transportation Foundation (APTF) Dan Reichard Scholarship in 2006, along with scholarship renewals in 2007 and 2008, and now I’m a member of the APTF Scholar Task Force.
What drew you to a career in public transportation?
Actually, I hadn’t planned on working in public transit. I graduated from Penn State with degrees in advertising/public relations and psychology. I tried working in retail management for three months before deciding I didn’t want to work in the for-profit sector—I wanted to do something that would benefit the community and really make a difference. A position opened up at CATA, I applied for it—and I’ve fallen in love with public transit. I used it while I was in college but had never thought about it as a career.
What have you found to be the most valuable APTA benefit or resource that helps you do your job?
My favorite thing about APTA is the different contacts I’ve made across the country among my peers. Marketing is never about recreating the wheel; it’s a process of sharing information and advice. We have developed a really close-knit group of transit marketers through APTA.
Please explain why or how this has helped.
Since I’m a one-person marketing department, this connection actually helps a lot. Many times I’ve been able to pick the brains of other marketers in ways that have helped me so much.
When CATA started its exterior bus advertising program, I knew nothing about how to do it. I reached out to people in the field—both locally and around the country—and was impressed with how interested people were in our success. (We only do back panel ads. We like the aesthetics of our buses, but knew we had to run some kind of ads to boost our revenues.)
Another major marketing project I led was the redesign of the CATA logo in 2009. The agency had had the same logo since the 1980s and it was time to do something different—especially because about 70 percent of riders are college students. We want them to think we’re professional and modern. We contacted a designer in Baltimore who helped us launch a rebranding campaign that included the CATA logo, all marketing materials, and the buses.
We revise our routes twice a year with the help of market research. All our buses are equipped with a Global Positioning Satellite system and we’re testing an Advanced Public Transportation System project. Riders also can use an iPhone or Android app to find the exact location of a bus, if it’s running on time, and when they can expect the bus to arrive at their stop.
What do you like most about your job?
I love my job. I like the fact that people in our community rely on us and we do the best job we can to serve them. It’s very rewarding. I like the people I’ve gotten to know during this job. Each day is different—I might do five interviews one day and a presentation the next.
What is unique about your agency (what would readers be surprised to learn)?
If people don’t know already, all 65 buses in CATA’s fixed-route fleet operate on compressed natural gas (CNG). CATA has a strong commitment to alternative fuel: we were the first public transit agency on the East Coast to convert our entire fleet from diesel to natural gas.
Some years ago, we worked with the Pennsylvania Transportation Institute at Penn State to test a hydrogen-CNG bus that operated on a liquid mix of 70 percent CNG and 30 percent hydrogen. CATA used a fueling facility on campus. That project is long over, but it was a learning experience for everyone.
CATA operates three modes: CATABUS, CATARIDE paratransit, and CATACOMMUTE carpools and vanpools. CATACOMMUTE currently operates 31 vanpools on the road—using 10-15-passenger, gasoline-powered vans—and lists more than 1,900 possible riders in its database. We were one of the first public transit agencies to provide this service in-house, and it’s been wildly successful. CATACOMMUTE provides service within roughly a 75-mile radius, which covers 11 counties.
Make sure you see Jacqueline Sheader's video, now that you've read this!
Cynthia Bush Owens
What are the three job elements you focus on the most (your primary responsibilities)?
I support the APTA Policy Department as we work with policy, statistics, planning and advocacy, and sustainability; provide program/project support such as older publication scanning, preparing and posting documents to the website; and assist the department in meeting its strategic goals as we move ahead to implement them for the benefit of the APTA membership.
Do you have direct contact with APTA members? If so, please talk about recent times you’ve helped out a member.
Early in my APTA career, I knew many members of the association leadership. In the past few years, I haven’t had the same contact because I travel only as needed.
I see people each year at the APTA Legislative Conference in Washington. For example, I provided support during the 2012 Legislative Conference when members of the Executive Committee and APTA staff were invited to a meeting at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building next to the White House. I’d always wanted to go inside that building, and this event gave me the chance to do it.
What initiatives, projects, or programs have you worked on at APTA that you have taken particular pride in completing?
With Art Guzzetti, vice president-policy, I assisted APTA’s TransitVision 2050 Initiative for the public transportation industry; the Framework for the Future for APTA and the industry; and the APTA Governance Committee. These efforts all affect the future of public transit and the governance committee implemented the association’s new governance structure. Being a part of this thrills me because it’s concentrating on the future of this industry and I want to have my support and participation linked to this effort.
With the late Melvin Howard, I helped to create and implement the American Public Transportation Foundation Scholarship Program and the APTA Awards Program.
How did you “land” at APTA? How long have you worked here?
After graduating from West Virginia University, I worked in the Vice President’s Office of Institutional Advancement. Later I visited the Washington, DC, area and decided to set up a few interviews; I was offered two jobs and accepted APTA’s offer in May 1985—I have 27-1/2 years of service!
I’ve worked at APTA through two moves and three different office locations: 1225 Connecticut Ave. NW, then APTA became the first tenants at 1201 New York Ave. NW, and now at 1666 K St. NW.
Could you tell us something about yourself that might surprise us?
I met Rosa Parks in March 1997—definitely a highlight in my life—when APTA presented her with its first-ever Lifetime Achievement Award. I was one of 17 people who attended a luncheon with her at Washington’s Union Station. She signed a book for me that she authored.
Another thrill was touring the tunnels of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s (WMATA) Maryland Red Line Glenmont Extension in 1998. WMATA opened the tunnels to the community a few months before beginning revenue service. My son and I were in a group of about 30 people who had the opportunity to walk the tracks inside the tunnel.
In June 2011, I decided to become a healthier me. With that in mind, I exercise regularly and have lost almost 65 pounds. Sometimes I will walk two miles between Union Station and the APTA offices before or after work to maintain fitness.
At the suggestion of others who have seen my efforts, I have instituted “Walking Wednesdays” (lunchtime walks) and “Workout After Work” on Tuesday evenings at the fitness center located in our office building.
My husband, Bob, and I have one son, Brandon, and one dog, Scout. Brandon will graduate in May 2013 from Norwich University, Northfield, VT, and will be commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps. He will be the only African-American commissioned in the corps in his graduating class.
Make sure you see Cynthia Bush Owens' video, now that you've read this!
APTA would like to thank all public transportation systems that submitted entries in the 2013 Photo Invitational. The 14 winning photos have been selected to appear in the calendar.
The theme of the 2013 calendar is “It’s All About the People,” so the winning photos from around the country highlight the people who work for and use APTA member systems. Each month highlights a member and includes a fact about why public transportation is all about the people.
The following APTA member public transit systems appear in the calendar:
* San Diego Metropolitan Transit System, San Diego, CA;
* Kansas City Area Transportation Authority, Kansas City, MO;
* Connecticut Transit, Hartford, CT;
* Sun Metro, El Paso, TX;
* Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, Washington, DC;
* Transit Authority of River City, Louisville, KY;
* Caltrain, San Carlos, CA;
* PACE Suburban Bus, Arlington Heights, IL;
* Pierce Transit, Lakewood, WA;
* Milwaukee County Transit System, Milwaukee, WI;
* Regional Transportation District, Denver, CO;
* Foothill Transit. West Covina, CA;
* Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Austin, TX; and
* Metropolitan Transportation Authority, New York, NY.
The 2013 APTA Marketing & Communications Workshop, Feb. 24-27 at the Omni Hotel in Los Angeles, will consider a number of timely and important topics for public transit marketing and communications professionals. Los Angeles Metro is the conference host system.
The workshop serves as a major educational forum with sessions focusing on all aspects of public transit marketing and communications, including making the most of marketing budgets; increasing ridership; media relations; conducting market research; improving customer service; and social media.
The program kicks off Feb. 24 with a special session to introduce attendees new to the public transit industry to the resources and people that can help make their entry into the industry easier. The conference also will include numerous activities such as the Call Center Challenge, Marketing Exchange & Roundtables, networking receptions, and a technical tour.
Information on the workshop, including the preliminary program, registration form, and hotel registration, is available online.
The American Public Transportation Foundation (APTF) is accepting applications through Jan. 25, 2013, for the Frank J. Lichtanski Memorial Scholarship.
The scholarship honors the legacy of the late Frank J. Lichtanski, longtime general manager/chief executive officer of Monterey-Salinas Transit, Monterey, CA, including his commitment to educating future leaders in transit leadership. It provides tuition support to attend an Eno Transit Executive Seminar: an intensive, week-long course on public transportation topics, designed for senior-level managers who report to their general manager or CEO in public transportation agencies and in companies that serve the public transit industry.
The 2013 seminar convenes April 14-19 in Washington, DC. Applicants will be notified of results in early February.
The application form is available here.
BY CHRISTIAN RICHARDS, APTA Legislative Analyst
This past year was an exciting time for the public transportation industry, with APTA and its members leading the way on several important issues.
In early February, while public transit programs operated under an extension of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act-A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU), committees in both the House and Senate released draft proposals of surface transportation authorization bills that would replace SAFETEA-LU. The proposals funded the federal public transit program at levels equal to or slightly above annual SAFETEA-LU levels, with the Senate proposing a two-year bill and the House a five-year bill.
However, shortly after the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee released its bill, the House Ways and Means Committee, which writes the tax title for the House bill, proposed eliminating both the Mass Transit Account of the Highway Trust Fund and the dedication of current motor fuels taxes that go to the Mass Transit Account to support FTA programs. This proposal would have reversed 30 years of policy under which a portion of federal motor fuels taxes have been used to fund part of the federal transit program.
After three weeks of intense lobbying by APTA members, staff, and coalition partners, and objections from a significant number of majority party members, the House leadership dropped the effort to eliminate dedicated funding for the federal transit program.
More recently, Congress passed, and President Obama signed into law, the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), which authorizes federal surface transportation programs for Fiscal Years 2013 and 2014. The public transportation title of MAP-21 sets public transportation funding levels at approximately $10.6 billion in FY 2013 and $10.7 billion in FY 2014.
While the full implementation of MAP-21 will not happen until a full year appropriations bill is adopted, many of the programmatic changes APTA sought in a new authorization bill will eventually be realized.
The 2012 APTA Annual Meeting in Seattle included a heavily attended panel session with key Congressional staffers. APTA members and staff were excited by the opportunity to ask questions about MAP-21 implementation, and received invaluable insights from the information these staffers provided.
However, with MAP-21 authorizing federal surface transportation programs for only two years, APTA has already begun to look toward the next authorization process. APTA Legislative Committee Chairman Jeff Nelson approached APTA Chair Flora Castillo and President & CEO Michael Melaniphy, and together they agreed to establish a new Authorization Task Force under the Legislative Committee.
The task force met for the first time Dec. 7 in Washington: APTA members gathered to begin deciding how to approach the next authorizing bill. The task force, co-chaired by five APTA members and open to any member looking to contribute to the authorization process, will work to address the numerous industry issues and both the general principles and details of the next bill.
MAP-21 does not include a title dealing specifically with passenger rail issues, and with next year’s expiration of both the Rail Safety Improvement Act (RSIA) and the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act (PRIIA), numerous issues must be resolved in the coming months. At the top of the list is rail safety, including requirements for the implementation of Positive Train Control (PTC) on the nation’s commuter railroads. As a result, APTA’s Commuter and Intercity Rail Legislative Subcommittee will work on a separate effort to develop recommendations related to the reauthorization of RSIA and PRIIA.
Beyond the authorization bill, APTA has been working with Congress to find solutions to a number of other important issues.
Michael P. DePallo, chief executive officer, Southern California Regional Rail Authority, and chairman, APTA Security Affairs Steering Committee, testified about proposed changes to the Transit Security Grant Program (TSGP) in March before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, and in April before the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Communications.
Public transit remains one of the largest potential terrorism targets, and the TSGP provides transit providers with capital funding for security preparedness. Proposed changes to the program would potentially make it more difficult for agencies to receive the funding they require to protect against potential attacks.
APTA staff members also have been working hard on tax issues: specifically, restoring the commuter public transit tax benefit to parity with the parking tax benefit and continuing the alternative fuels tax credit. Both items are crucial to the industry.
In October, the Senate Finance Committee reported out a bill in that would extend both provisions through 2013. However, the fate of that legislation rests with the ultimate negotiations between the White House and Congress over how to resolve the “fiscal cliff.”
APTA has continued to work on Capitol Hill and with its coalition partners in advocating the continued need for federal investment in transportation, stressing the existence of a “transportation investment deficit” and that our nation’s economic future depends on a robust and efficient transportation network.
Continued advocacy for transportation investment and federal policy beneficial to public transportation will undoubtedly continue into 2013, especially as Congress continues to address issues related to the national debt and deficit and reform of U.S. tax policy.
BY BARRINGTON M. SALMON, Special to Passenger Transport
The past year saw the continued growth and development of bus and rail systems. DOT and FTA made significant investments in public transit projects, developing, maintaining, or extending the nation’s public transportation systems in all modes: heavy rail, light rail, commuter rail, and bus.
The federal government made available a record $7.9 billion in 2012 to enhance major rail and bus projects across 13 cities in 10 states—from San Francisco to Denver to Washington, DC.
FTA Helps Propel Growth
On May 22 in Portland, OR, FTA Administrator Peter M. Rogoff signed a Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) that allows the Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon (TriMet) to begin construction of a light rail extension. FTA is providing $745.2 million to TriMet for the Portland-Milwaukie light rail project, which will significantly expand transit options and create easier commutes between downtown Portland and the Milwaukie suburbs.
Throughout 2012, FTA was instrumental in advancing more than $4 billion in New Starts funding for various modes of rail in the final stages of development in cities including Tucson, AZ; Oakland and San Francisco, CA; Hartford and Stamford, CT; Orlando, FL; and Houston, TX. The funding breaks down as follows:
* $182.5 million for a modern streetcar system in Tucson;
* $484.1 million for an airport connector at the Oakland, CA airport;
* $1.5 billion for San Francisco’s Central Subway;
* $560.7 million for the New Britain-Hartford Busway;
* $48 million for the second phase of the Urban Transitway in Stamford;
* $78.4 million for improvements to the Wilmington-Newark, NJ, commuter rail line;
* $356.3 million for the initial operating segment of Central Florida Commuter Rail Transit in Orlando; and
* A combined $1.4 billion to complete the north and southeast corridors of the light rail transit system in Houston.
DOT Secretary Ray LaHood and Rogoff signed a $942.2 million agreement that will extend San Francisco’s Third Street light rail system through the city’s busy Chinatown neighborhood, returning light rail to the heavily transit-dependent Third Street corridor for the first time in 50 years.
The new T-Third Light Rail extension, part of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s Central Subway project, will run from the downtown business district north to Chinatown along one of the city’s most heavily traveled corridors. Once completed, it will improve transit options between the Financial District and Union Square, while connecting Chinatown with existing San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART), Caltrain, and other transportation services.
LaHood also approved a $545.9 million Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act loan that will allow Los Angeles Metro to begin construction of a new light rail transit line along the Crenshaw corridor. This line will enhance access to existing public transit service throughout Los Angeles.
Another FTA grant, for $900 million, will help BART extend service into Santa Clara County, home to many fast-growing Silicon Valley companies. The Silicon Valley Berryessa Extension Project, expected to break ground in April 2013, will extend BART by 10 miles and involve the construction of two new stations, in Milpitas and Berryessa, and the procurement of 40 new passenger rail cars. This investment continues the planned 16-mile BART Silicon Valley extension bringing service to downtown San Jose and Santa Clara County.
Once completed, the new BART segment will be part of a 119-mile network connecting Santa Clara County with San Mateo, San Francisco, Contra Costa, and Alameda counties.
Rogoff also laid the groundwork for future public transit growth by extending it into new communities. A case in point is Charlotte, NC, where he signed a federal commitment for $580 million to extend the Charlotte Area Transit System’s Blue Line light rail line to the University of North Carolina-Charlotte campus.
Rogoff and LaHood helped kick off construction Feb. 17 for a new 3.9-mile streetcar line in Cincinnati. The modern streetcar system will connect Cincinnati’s riverfront to other parts of the city, revitalizing neighborhoods along the way and offering residents greater mobility and access.
The New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) marked the completion of a major renovation project for MTA Metro-North Railroad’s Cortlandt Station Feb. 15.
The Port Authority of Allegheny County in Pittsburgh opened the North Shore Connector light rail extension on March 23. The $517 million, 1.2-mile light rail extension connects to downtown Pittsburgh to the North Shore neighborhood across the Allegheny River. It serves an area of the city’s North Side that has been a development hotspot during the last decade.
FTA awarded the Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority in Austin, TX, a $38 million Very Small Starts grant to implement MetroRapid Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) service. It will operate on 37.5 miles of streets that run parallel to the region’s main highways.
Los Angeles Metro marked the opening of Expo light rail this spring. The $932 million line spans 8.6 miles between downtown Los Angeles and Culver City, and its opening extends the Metro Rail system to 87 miles.
The Sacramento Regional Transit District marked the opening of the Green Line light rail extension to the River District on June 15. The 1.1-mile extension adds two new stations to the line.
Dallas Area Rapid Transit opened the first 4.5 miles of Orange Line light rail July 30 in Irving, TX. This segment includes three stations.
The San Diego Metropolitan Transit System introduced Green Line trolley service through downtown San Diego—past the convention center and Petco Park to the 12th and Imperial Transit Center—on Sept. 2. This line previously terminated at the Old Town Transit Center.
The newest modern streetcar line in Portland, OR, the Central Loop, entered service Sept. 22. The city of Portland operates the 3.35-mile, double-tracked line extension with 28 new streetcar stops.
Seattle’s Sound Transit commemorated the launch of Sounder commuter rail service to Lakewood and South Tacoma with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Lakewood Station in early October.
Valley Metro in Phoenix received $75 million in FTA funding for its 3.1-mile light rail extension into downtown Mesa, AZ.
LaHood joined representatives of The Rapid in Grand Rapids, MI, for a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the public transportation agency’s new Wealthy Operations Center, located on Wealthy Street. The Rapid received $10.6 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Funds, along with funding from other federal capital grants and a $4.2 million match from Michigan DOT.
Sun Tran in Tucson, AZ, joined the city of Tucson to celebrate the opening of its Northwest Bus Facility with ceremonies Jan. 26. The 25-acre facility will store and maintain the agency’s fleet of buses, while allowing the continued expansion of public transportation service in the region. The $56 million facility now has the capacity to operate and maintain 250 buses for the region.
During the 30th anniversary of its paratransit service, CCT Connect, SEPTA celebrated the opening of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Association’s Accessible Travel Center.
BRTs and Other Bus Services
New and extended rail lines weren’t the only advances public transit agencies saw in 2012. A number of agencies moved forward with BRT systems and innovations in bus service.
Monterey-Salinas Transit (MST) in Monterey, CA, introduced service on the JAZZ BRT line on Sept. 1. It operates on a 6.75-mile route between Sand City Station and the aquarium, traveling through Seaside, where many public transit-dependent hospitality workers reside.
The Rapid in Grand Rapids received $32 million in federal funds to build Silver Line BRT.
King County DOT received funding through FTA’s Bus and Bus Facilities Grant Program to build two new BRT lines as part of plans for a six-corridor RapidRide system. The E Line will operate between Shoreline and downtown Seattle. The F Line will provide connections among the cities of Burien, SeaTac, Tukwila, and Renton, as well as to Sound Transit’s Link light rail and Sounder commuter rail. The four other RapidRide lines have already entered service.
Local officials in Fort Collins, CO, signed a $54.5 percent funding agreement for the new MAX BRT line expected to reduce commuting times and traffic congestion and spur economic development. FTA also awarded the system an additional $3.9 million through its Bus and Bus Facilities grant program.
The Roaring Fork Transportation Authority in Aspen, CO, kicked off construction this year of “VelociRFTA,” the nation’s first BRT system serving a rural population. The buses will run on home-grown clean fuel as it connects workers who live in the Roaring Fork Valley to jobs about 40 miles away at local area resorts.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood speaks at The Rapid's new Wealthy Operations Center.
Hundreds of invited guests showed for the opening of the North Shore Connector, including these crowds entering the new Gateway Station in downtown Pittsburgh and standing on the entry stairs.
Amid a flurry of confetti, the first Sounder train pulls into Lakewood Station on Oct. 6.
BY BARRINGTON M. SALMON, Special to Passenger Transport
Throughout the year, APTA’s Communications and Marketing Department held a range of events and activities and produced a variety of supporting materials showcasing the association’s position as a thought leader. The primary message was that public transit both creates jobs and takes people to their jobs.
Social Media Outreach
APTA continued to expand its social media presence to reach more and new audiences. For the first time, APTA held a “Travel Like a Local” contest, inviting Facebook users to share their city vacation plans. It also highlighted a travel survey that discussed the travel habits of summer visitors to U.S. cities.
Additionally, APTA engaged its users by conducting a Facebook survey asking what questions they would ask the presidential candidates and, in turn, they promoted the responses to the media.
APTA was very active on Twitter during Hurricane Sandy in late October, as the association helped disseminate information regarding the devastation caused by the storm.
In all, APTA engaged and attracted more than 132,000 Facebook fans and more than 6,400 Twitter followers in 2012.
This month APTA launched the “Public Transportation Blog,” which can be found by clicking the “Blog” icon on the APTA website, or by clicking here. It provides yet another effective tool for APTA in its social media outreach efforts.
Preserved Dedicated Funding to Mass Transit Account
APTA conducted a number of successful communications efforts to support the industry’s advocacy efforts to preserve $25 billion in dedicated fuels tax revenues from the Mass Transit Account of the Highway Trust Fund.
The House Ways and Means Committee had voted to divert the funds from the account. In response, APTA arranged for a broad coalition of business and public transit leaders to join together on a conference call to encourage Congress to reject this proposal. Participants included representatives from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, APTA business members, and APTA leadership. In addition, general managers from many APTA member systems participated in a press outreach conference call, also appealing to Congress to reject the proposal.
The House ultimately voted to reject the proposal and restore dedicated funding for public transportation to the Highway Trust Fund.
APTA launched an aggressive advertising campaign spotlighting the benefits of public transportation as the March 31 deadline approached for Congress to pass a transportation authorization bill.
Through “station domination,” APTA placed advertisements on all available spaces in the Washington Metropolitan Area Transportation Authority’s (WMATA) Union Station and Capitol South Metrorail stations, which serve the U.S. Capitol and House and Senate office buildings. Ads also ran on WMATA buses and inside its railcars.
Gas Price Volatility Study
APTA partnered with Building America’s Future to release a study predicting that record numbers of Americans would turn to public transportation as a cost-cutting measure in the face of volatile gas prices.
The analysis used historical trends and independent research data to make predictions on the impact gas prices would have on public transit ridership across the nation. It showed that, on average, public transportation systems would provide nearly 200 million additional trips during 2012 even as gas prices fluctuated by as much as 50 cents per gallon.
As a result, APTA successfully garnered stories in Politico, the Washington Post Wonk Blog, Dallas Morning News, Transportation Nation, Columbus Dispatch, DC Streetsblog, Huffington Post, EE Newswire, and others.
APTA-ARTBA Ad Campaign Honored
A television and radio ad campaign featuring former Presidents Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, supported by APTA and the American Road and Transportation Builders (ARTBA), received a 2012 Hermes Award from the Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals. The ads focused on the importance of federal authorization for surface transportation projects.
The annual, international Hermes Awards competition recognizes outstanding creativity in the concept, writing, and design of traditional and emerging media. Judges selected winners from more than 4,700 applications from around the globe. The radio ad won the Gold Award in the category of “Audio Advocacy,” while the television ad earned Honorable Mention in the “TV Advocacy” category.
This year, APTA conducted its first comprehensive membership survey in five years. With an impressive response rate, APTA members reported a high level of engagement with the association and satisfaction with the its diverse programs and services.
Dump the Pump Day
APTA reported that its seventh annual National Dump the Pump Day, celebrated in June, was by far the largest in the history of the event, with more than 160 public transportation systems, state transit associations, environmental organizations, and businesses participating. Public transit agencies’ promotions and events focused on the economic, energy-saving, environmental, and other benefits that accrue from people choosing to take public transportation.
With a wide variety of events, APTA and its members celebrated, thanked, and saluted America’s military veterans during the APTA-sponsored Public Transportation Supports America’s Veterans Day. The purpose of the program was to increase awareness of the public transportation industry’s commitment to recruiting veterans to careers in the industry and connecting them, by public transit, to available services and resources.
High-Speed Rail Outreach
In support of the 8th World Congress on High-Speed Rail in Philadelphia, held in July 2012, APTA released a study titled Opportunity Cost of Inaction: High-Speed Rail and High-Performance Rail in the U.S., which was publicized at a Washington event attended by administration officials, congressional members and rail leaders.
APTA also released a poll showing that nearly two-thirds of Americans are interested in traveling by high-speed rail.
The Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP), managed by APTA, continued its outreach and dissemination efforts in 2012 by exhibiting at more than 50 venues, including the APTA Annual Meeting, state association conferences, the Community Transportation Association’s EXPO, the Council of Minority Transportation Officials (COMTO), WTS, and the National Rule Assistance Transportation Program.
The 18 TCRP Ambassadors continue to serve as liaisons to the public transit industry by participating in events and visiting transportation providers to inform them of the wide array of solution-based research products available from TCRP. COMTO manages the TCRP Ambassador Program.
Lastly, TCRP’s Dissemination Program will launch a new website design in the new year.
Passenger Transport introduced two new and popular recurring columns in January 2012. One column profiles association members and the other introduces members of the APTA staff. A short video hosted on APTA’s website accompanies each profile.
The North County Transit District wrapped one of its Coaster commuter rail cars with a vinyl graphic that salutes the military.
BY PAMELA BOSWELL, APTA Vice President-Program Management and Educational Services
During the past year, APTA worked to expand its professional development and training efforts to provide improved service for its members. Here are a few examples.
Workforce Development: Investing in Public Transportation’s Human Capital
APTA continued its focus on the association’s strategic priority to invest and develop the industry’s human capital through workforce development, succession planning, and preparing the next generation of public transit leaders.
Helping APTA member organizations attract, develop, and retain a diverse, high-performance workforce remains a top priority, particularly among mid-level professionals.
APTA’s Blue Ribbon Panel on Workforce Development, a new task force led by then-APTA Vice Chair and current Chair Flora Castillo, developed recommendations in four key areas: sustaining human capital investment; developing and mentoring “early career” mid-level managers; creating new and expanded partnerships; and developing the private sector workforce.
The task force called for action to address the industry’s collective efforts. Among its recommendations was to identify what it called a major gap in development and mentoring for “early career” mid-level managers and launch a new program to meet that need.
APTA is in a position to provide “sustainable” ongoing leadership to the public transportation industry. The organization has established a “Center on Human Capital Investment” that will have an enhanced website presence, combined with webinars and roundtables, to promote best practices, address skill gap shortages, and teach strategies for how best to invest in human capital by leveraging partnerships with public transit training providers for management and front-line employees.
In 2012, APTA launched a program to involve more middle management staff and deputies in its activities and provide new opportunities for mid-level, younger managers to network, participate, and make presentations at APTA conferences and meetings. This included new breakfast sessions at the Bus & Paratransit Conference, Rail Conference, and Annual Meeting.
Mid-Level Managers Program
In recognition of the need to prepare the next generation of public transportation leaders, APTA launched a new signature program: the Mid-Level Managers Magnification Program or M3. More than 150 mid-level managers participated in the sessions.
The APTA Bus & Paratransit and Rail conference schedules also included National Transit Institute training sessions to provide mid-level managers with the skills necessary to lead, manage, and supervise.
For the first time in its history, APTA hosted a networking forum for deputy chief executive officers during the Transit CEOs Seminar. This session addressed such issues as career paths, professional courses, and ways in which APTA can support the professional development of future public transportation CEOs.
APTA continued to incorporate higher education students into its conference and meeting programs during 2012. More than 200 students from community colleges, technical and vocational schools, and four-year universities participated in presentations and student-led sessions at this year’s Bus & Paratransit and Rail conferences and Annual Meeting.
The association also managed the U.S. student competition for this year’s UIC 8th World Congress on High-Speed Rail in Philadelphia, with 13 award winners.
APTA played a major role in planning and managing the April 2012 “National Transportation Workforce Summit” sponsored by the Council of University Transportation Centers, DOT, and the Departments of Labor and Education. More than 300 people discussed issues including the changing roles of community colleges and universities, and challenges and opportunities for professional and continuing education.
Professional Credentials and Certification
This year, APTA created new opportunities for members to receive certification maintenance credits at APTA conferences, meetings and specialized workshops. More than 100 APTA members received credit during the year for their participation in the association’s educational programs.
In addition to offering credits for members of the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) and the American Institute of Architects (AIA), APTA began giving credits for professional engineers in 2012. APTA also secured approval from the International Institute for Municipal Clerks to extend credits for three training courses at the Board Support Employee Development Workshop held in conjunction with the Transit Board Members Seminar.
APTA designs its major meetings and conferences to provide members with valuable information, insight, and inspiration. In 2012, we raised the bar and attracted large numbers of participants.
At the Annual Meeting in Seattle, approximately 2,000 attendees heard FTA Administrator Peter M. Rogoff and Alan Boyd, the first DOT secretary, during the Opening General Session. Councilor Rehana Moosajee, member, Mayoral Committee, Transport, City of Johannesburg, South Africa, reported on her successful effort to build South Africa’s first Bus Rapid Transit system during a session sponsored by APTA’s Business Members. The closing session featured Seattle’s World Famous Pike Place Fishmongers, whose interactive presentation focused on keys to successful workplaces. The APTA/WTS Speaker Breakfast brought together a panel of powerful women, within public transportation and other industries, to share their perspectives on leadership.
More than 900 attendees heard remarks by FTA Deputy Administrator Therese McMillan at the 2012 Bus & Paratransit Conference and International Bus Roadeo in Long Beach, CA.
McMillan also addressed more than 1,000 participants at the 2012 Rail Conference in Dallas, TX, joined by FRA Administrator Joseph Szabo.
DOT Secretary Ray LaHood spoke at the Opening General Session of the 2012 Legislative Conference in Washington, DC. Rogoff and Szabo participated in a session about the future of the public transportation industry.
APTA also sponsored many more meetings and workshops during the year, covering such topics as public transportation and universities, Intelligent Transportation Systems best practices, light rail and streetcars, fare collection, multimodal operations, and sustainability.
BY KYLE BELL, APTA Program Manager-Environment & Infrastructure
As we finish the year, public transportation is becoming cleaner and more energy-efficient.
Nationally, the number of natural gas-powered public transit vehicles in service has expanded from 3 percent of the fleet in 1996 to 19 percent and growing in 2011. Hybrid-electric buses represented 9 percent of the fleet in 2011, compared with 0.5 percent in 2005. Public transit vehicles powered with other fuels such as fuel cells, electricity, and biodiesel also show gains.
Public transit agencies continue to integrate sustainability principles into the design, maintenance, and operation of their facilities and fleets. In support of these efforts, APTA has continued to promote environmentally effective, socially responsible, and economically efficient practices for the industry.
During 2012, APTA’s sustainability efforts benefitted from improved communications capacity, additional technical resources and member services, and increased participation, all while adding value for members. The association achieved this through new venues for collaboration, new APTA Standards processes, several high-profile member recognition awards, and the annual APTA Sustainability & Public Transportation Workshop.
Further, APTA’s sustainability program started the year with an addition to the staff. Kyle Bell, program manager-environment & infrastructure, joined Rich Weaver, director of planning, policy, and sustainability, Art Guzzetti, vice president-policy, and Petra Mollet, chief of staff, to assist in carrying out APTA’s varied sustainability initiatives.
The APTA Sustainability Committee—headed by Chair Kevin Desmond, general manager, King County Metro Transit, Seattle, WA, and Vice Chair Susannah Kerr Adler, vice president/national director-transportation facilities, URS Corporation—aims to support the adoption of sustainability principles (economic, environmental, and social) in public transit and to articulate industry contributions to local, regional, state, and national sustainability and livability objectives.
The committee has supported the ongoing redesign of the APTA Sustainability website, making it more user-friendly, interactive, and focused on communicating the value of sustainability to members. Tying in with this endeavor, a member-led effort to develop a Sustainability Managers’ webinar has led to several successful monthly meetings with a member-driven agenda. Most recently, the group focused on the value of Environmental and Sustainability Management Systems to public transit agencies, and related FTA training opportunities.
Under the guidance of the Sustainability Committee, the APTA Standards Sustainability Metrics Working Group published the recommended practice, Quantifying and Reporting Transit Sustainability Metrics. This document attempts to simplify the process of reporting and tracking key indicators of sustainability for transit agency signatories to the APTA Sustainability Commitment by providing detailed point-by-point guidance to practitioners.
The next step for this working group, currently underway, is to define social and economic sustainability principles and measurement tools for the public transit industry.
APTA’s Sustainability Commitment, launched in 2009, is a voluntary agreement to lay the foundation for a solid sustainability program within an organization. To date, the commitment has 107 signatories, including 50 businesses and 57 public transit agencies—an addition of more than 20 signatories this year.
Signatories may receive credit for verified improvement in these key sustainability indicators (bronze, silver, gold, and platinum), as judged by a panel of members.
Joining the APTA Standards process is the Sustainable Procurement Working Group. This multi-disciplinary team recently completed a cross-cutting survey of the industry and is currently defining its work plan. The group aims to bring together public- and private-sector experts to define common expectations for sustainable materials procurement, further linking sustainability as strategic goal to day-to-day operations.
Over the course of the year, the association welcomed three additional public transit agencies that have achieved gold status in the APTA Sustainability Commitment.
* Sound Transit of Seattle, WA, among other accomplishments, totaled an 11 percent reduction in energy use per trip and reduced criteria air pollutant emissions by approximately 15 percent per trip through adding diesel-electric hybrids to its fleet;
* Intercity Transit of Olympia, WA, achieved a 35 percent overall increase in displaced greenhouse gas emissions and moved to full B20 biodiesel use in its revenue vehicles; and
* The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) of Philadelphia, PA, achieved a 10 percent reduction in fuel use per passenger-mile traveled (PMT) and a 4 percent reduction in electric use per PMT. One-third of SEPTA’s bus fleet is now hybrid-diesel.
These agencies joined 2010 recipient TransLink of Vancouver, BC, as APTA’s most highly awarded members.
The gold award for SEPTA coincided with the annual APTA Sustainability and Public Transportation Workshop in August, which SEPTA hosted. From Aug. 5-8, more than 170 participants gathered in Philadelphia to meet, network, and hear presentations from their peers. The theme of this year’s workshop was “Innovative Partnerships for Sustainability and State of Good Repair” and featured presentations from SEPTA General Manager Joseph M. Casey and a tour of SEPTA’s Letterly Substation wayside energy storage project. FTA Deputy Administrator Therese McMillan delivered the keynote address, discussing the link between sustainability and state of good repair.
The coming year promises much more for APTA’s sustainability efforts. This includes ongoing APTA Standards projects on topics of value to the industry, continued knowledge-sharing and conference sessions, and several recognition-level applications in the pipeline. APTA looks forward to success in 2013.
Photo by Heather Redfern, SEPTA
BY ART GUZZETTI, APTA Vice President-Policy
This year can be characterized by new APTA partnerships, new inroads into thought leadership, and in rolling up our sleeves to figure out new challenges brought on by enactment of Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) and other new policy directions.
Public transportation as a central element of energy policy. In 2012, APTA became involved in energy discussions at a greater level than ever before.
A broad coalition of energy interests, working through a special commission established by the Alliance to Save Energy, launched an initiative to develop policy recommendations that would result in doubling the rate of energy productivity between now and 2030.
The coalition report will cover the full spectrum of energy interests, including power generation, buildings, appliances, and industry. APTA took the lead in working with diverse partners to develop recommendations covering transportation, land use, and accessibility.
The transportation sector accounts for 70 percent of U.S. oil consumption. The largest consumer of petroleum is the automobile, and too many Americans have no choice but to drive for many of their trips. Consistent with the report’s overarching theme of “unleashing investment,” APTA has urged investment in a balanced transportation system that allows energy-efficient transportation options.
Energy policy will be an area of ongoing interest in 2013. The call to increase development of domestic energy sources needs to be coupled with policies that encourage energy efficiency.
New thinking has identified public transportation as a component of a forward-looking strategy for energy efficiency, balanced transportation options, and community choices that greatly reduce the amount of energy necessary for the conduct of daily life.
Funding the growing demand for public transportation. The APTA Board of Directors devoted significant attention this year to “Funding the Future of Public Transportation.” This topic was the focus of presentations, roundtable discussions, and conference calls, resulting in an action plan approved in July.
The plan identified specific action for leveraging partnerships, thought leadership on new funding and financing models, and tapping into the grassroots as ways that APTA and its members can lead the way forward.
Separately, APTA’s Transit Board Members Committee held monthly webinars throughout the year to hear about innovative financial strategies and revenue initiatives that have successfully been implemented by public transit systems throughout North America.
From the toll-road concession that helped build the A-Train in Denton County, TX, to the Eagle P3 project in Denver; from the America Fast Forward initiative in Los Angeles to naming rights programs in Philadelphia and the Dulles Corridor extension of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s Metrorail Virginia, funded through a combination of highway tolls, airport passenger facility charges, tax-increment financing, and special tax districts—public transit systems across the U.S. have found numerous ways to move projects forward, even in challenging economic times.
Voters continued to support public transit at the ballot box in 2012. Voters approved public transportation measures in 49 of 62 transit elections, an approval rate of 79 percent.
MAP-21 implementation: a new framework. MAP-21 set a new tone for the federal surface transportation program. Themes including performance measurement, asset management, state of good repair, expedited program delivery, core capacity, program consolidation, safety oversight, and innovative finance each require considerable thought as the legislation itself omits many details.
Implementation of these new programs has been a focus since President Obama signed the bill into law on July 6, 2012.
Thought leadership. APTA stepped up to add clarity on a number of topics. In a new military veterans and public transportation initiative, APTA is working with many partners to help find ways for public transportation to help returning veterans and their families re-engage in civilian life. Military veterans also seem particularly well suited to careers in public transportation.
APTA is also working with its chair, Flora Castillo, and health organizations to bring attention to the importance of the access to health services made possible through public transportation. The American Public Health Association estimates that 3.5 million health appointments per year are missed due to transportation issues.
In 2012, APTA had access to the White House as it has never had before, participating in more than 15 meetings on topics including job creation, wellness, safety, and technology.
And the list goes on and on. Nationwide ridership grew more than 5 percent in the first quarter of the year. An APTA report showed how each spike in gas prices builds and retains ridership. When there were threats to take public transit out of the federal Highway Trust Fund, an APTA report showed how such an action would undermine local finance and destabilize private sector suppliers.
Other reports probed economic benefits, demographic change, and growing trends toward the broader role as mobility managers. And APTA has been asked to provide ideas for the administration’s second term, an update of a document provided for the 2008 transition.
The year 2013 promises to be bigger yet!
During the past year, the public transit community said goodbye to industry leaders, pioneers of transportation technology, and two members of the APTA Hall of Fame.
Here is how they were remembered in the pages of Passenger Transport, in chronological order of their deaths.
New Jersey Assembly Minority Leader Alex DeCroce, 75, died Jan. 9 in the New Jersey Statehouse in Trenton following the final voting session of the 214th Legislature. New Jersey Transit Corporation (NJ Transit) Executive Director James Weinstein called DeCroce “a true public servant, a wonderful human being, and one of New Jersey’s foremost experts on public transportation.”
Jack W. Boorse, 78, principal professional associate for transport engineering in the Philadelphia office of Parsons Brinckerhoff (PB) since 1988, died May 9. Before joining PB, Boorse had served the Philadelphia Streets Department since 1957, spending the last five years of his tenure as chief traffic engineer.
Harold Williams, 90, of Woodland Park, MI, a founder of the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials in 1971, died May 11. Williams was a retired FTA associate administrator and longtime director of civil rights for its predecessor organization, the Urban Mass Transportation Administration. Following his retirement, he was a consultant to public transit agencies and DOT on issues of equal opportunity.
David Ruback, 56, president of Radio Engineering Industries Inc. in Omaha, NE, died of pancreatic cancer on May 22. Ruback joined the company in 1987 and became its president in 1998.
William D. Kennedy, 69, an internationally recognized expert on tunnel ventilation, died June 23. Kennedy worked with PB for 46 years; in the early 1970s, he was part of a joint venture team from PB, DeLeuw, Cather & Company, and Kaiser Engineers that developed the Subway Environmental Design Handbook under contract to DOT.
Walter J. Zable, 97, founder, chairman, president, and chief executive officer of Cubic Corporation, died June 25 in San Diego. Zable had guided Cubic since founding it in 1951.
Robert (Bob) K. Pfaff, 61, executive director of METRO Regional Transit Authority in Akron, OH, for the past 17 years, died July 2. Pfaff began his 38-year career at METRO as a bus operator in 1974, ultimately rising to the top position.
Leonard Ronis, 90, of Beachwood, OH, a 60-year public transportation professional, died July 4. Ronis joined the former Cleveland Transit System (CTS) in 1946, moving through the ranks to serve as the last CTS general manager on Nov. 1, 1974; he then became the first general manager of the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority, serving until 1981. He subsequently spent 22 years as an associate consultant with PB. Ronis served as APTA president in 1980-82—at the time, APTA had both an elected president and an elected chair—and he was named to the APTA Hall of Fame in 1990.
Thomas J. (Tom) Woods, 55, chief of procurement for NJ Transit, died July 7. He joined the Procurement Department of NJ Transit in 1987 and held several senior management positions during his 25-year career with the agency.
Linda Somilleda, 52, director of operations and customer service for Foothill Transit, West Covina, CA, died July 24. Somilleda was a 16-year employee of the agency, joining the staff in 1996 and named to her most recent post earlier this year. She was a graduate of the Leadership APTA Class of 2005 and a member of the APTA Marketing and Communications Committee.
James A. Machesney, 83, of Naples, FL, a longtime public transportation professional, died July 31. Machesney had a 43-year career with Vapor Bus International-A Wabtec Company, ultimately serving as its senior vice president. He was inducted into the APTA Hall of Fame in 1999. Machesney chaired the Associate Member Board of Governors (now the Business Member Board of Governors) from 1986 to 1988 and was the first recipient of the APTA Associate Member Outstanding Contribution Award (now the Outstanding Business Member).
Langley C. Powell, 71, the first president and general manager of San Diego Trolley Inc., died Aug. 31 in McComb, MS. Powell was at the helm of San Diego Trolley during the successful startup of the 15-mile light rail system in 1981. He also oversaw seven subsequent expansions of the system east to Santee, north to Old Town, and through Mission Valley.
George Williams Barlow, 52, retired chief technology officer with the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) in San Jose, CA, died Oct. 12. Barlow was a 12-year VTA employee who earlier worked 10 years for the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority.
John P. LaForce, 79, an employee of Philadelphia’s Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) for more than half a century, died Nov. 20. LaForce joined the former Philadelphia Transportation Company as a streetcar operator in 1954, ultimately rising to the position of deputy chief engineer, infrastructure. SEPTA presented him with a special citation in 2004 in recognition of his 50 years of service.
Photo by Heather Trimm
Winners of the 2012 APTA Awards assemble onstage at the conclusion of the Oct. 2 luncheon ceremony.
Photo by Steve Barrett
Photo by Heather Trimm
President Obama signed MAP-21 in White House ceremonies July 6.
Photo by Heather Trimm
Vice President Joe Biden met employees of American Seating at its plant in Grand Rapids, MI, during a visit in February.
Photo by Todd Parola
Public transportation industry leaders convened with White House officials March 13. Clockwise from left: Melaniphy; APTA Immediate Past Chair Gary C. Thomas; APTA Chair Flora Castillo; APTA Chief Counsel and Vice President-Corporate Affairs James LaRusch; former APTA Secretary-Treasurer Nathaniel P. Ford Sr.; Tom Nolan, San Francisco Muni; Beth Osborne, DOT assistant secretary for transportation policy; Dana Hyde, associate director, White House Office of Management and Budget; Kyle Lehrman, White House Office of Public Engagement; Jon Carson, deputy assistant to the president and director of public engagement; Carlos Monje Jr., senior policy advisor for the Domestic Policy Council; FTA Deputy Administrator Therese McMillan; FTA Administrator Peter M. Rogoff; APTA Executive Committee member Sharon McBride, Greater Peoria Mass Transit District Board of Trustees; and Mike Schneider, InfraConsult.
Photo by Layne Murdoch
Photo by Mitch Wood
Photo by Juan Ocampo
Photo by Heather Trimm
Participating at the Jan. 19 White House Roundtable on Real Time Transit Applications, from left, were APTA President & CEO Michael P. Melaniphy; Deputy Transportation Secretary John Porcari; White House Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra; Chris Horsman, chief information officer, Chicago Transit Authority; Chris Vein of the White House; and Hugh Mose, general manager of the Centre Area Transportation Authority.
Hurricane Sandy brought flood waters and debris into NYC Transit's South Ferry Station.
Photo by Kevin Allen
The Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County, Reno, NV, invited its customers to ride free on Dump the Pump Day. Promotional efforts included a “Free Transit Day” message on bus header signs; ads in local publications and on the back of buses; and the governor’s statewide proclamation of Dump the Pump Day in Nevada.
An NJ Transit train stands on the tracks, surrounded by debris spread by the heavy rain and high winds of Hurricane Sandy.
APTA President & CEO MIchael Melaniphy spent his first year reaching out to APTA members. While in Los Angeles for a meeting of general managers of municipal public transportation agencies in the Los Angeles area, he toured Metro's facilities with Arthur T. Leahy, left, Los Angeles Metro chief executive officer, and Nick Madanat, director of vehicle maintenance and engineering.
Atlanta’s Clean Air Campaign recently presented the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority (GRTA) with its inaugural UPS Exemplary Diesel Idle Reduction Award. The honor recognizes GRTA’s program to improve fuel economy and air quality through its cost-cutting idle reduction efforts for the Xpress commuter service fleet in metropolitan Atlanta.
UPS and the Clean Air Campaign have worked together to reduce unnecessary diesel vehicle idling since 2008, through grants from the UPS Foundation. The award specifically honors organizations that make a significant contribution to air quality by reducing idling.
“This achievement resulted from a true public-private partnership that is exemplified in this award sponsored by UPS,” said GRTA Executive Director Jannine Miller. “Businesses, whether public or private, all have to find new ways to cut costs and improve efficiency. And the results are definitive: fuel economy for the Xpress coaches is up 10-12 percent since July 2009.”
GRTA’s Xpress fleet transports thousands of commuters from park-and-ride lots to their workplaces in Atlanta. The fleet has improved its fuel economy over the past four years by reducing idling time to a maximum of five minutes, reducing top vehicle operating speeds, conducting more frequent tire pressure checks, and installing on-board vehicle performance trackers.
Thanks to the installation of a queue jump light funded by a federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality grant, Community Transit’s Swift Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) service in Snohomish County, WA, is able to save its riders even more time.
Swift operates on the Highway 99 corridor, making few stops and using the right-hand transit lane. The queue jump light at Highway 99 and 148th Street between Lynnwood and Everett, where the northbound transit lane ends, will help the vehicles merge into regular traffic.
The new traffic signal on the northbound traffic pole at 148th Street, above the pedestrian light, is visible only to those in the right-hand transit lane. When a Swift bus has a red light at the intersection, the queue jump arrow will light green several seconds before the regular green light is activated for all northbound traffic. This head start will allow time for the bus to cross the intersection and merge into the general traffic lane. When a Swift bus is not waiting for a head start, the arrow will match the color of the regular signal – green, yellow, or red.
While the bus driver and passengers will see the new green arrow, other motorists may think the bus is running a red light. Traffic engineers made the queue jump light visible only to right-hand lane drivers so other cars would not accidently go at the same time. Despite how it may look to drivers in adjoining lanes, the bus movement is safe and legal.
Metro in St. Louis is marking the 25th anniversary of Call-A-Ride, its paratransit service. The system, then known as the Bi-State Development Agency, introduced its curb-to-curb van service in November 1987, providing a vital transit option for citizens across St. Louis City and County who had mobility issues that prevented them from using MetroBus. This service currently provides 700,000 trips each year.
“Call-A-Ride has been a true resource for the community for 25 years. Our staff works diligently every day to provide the best customer experience possible,” said Paul Willett, Metro’s chief of paratransit operations and service development. “Call-A-Ride’s record speaks for itself. So far this year, 72 percent of all of our customer contacts are unsolicited commendations regarding the van operators, the office staff, and the service in general. We are very proud of that number.”
To commemorate the silver anniversary, Metro created a special 25th-anniversary logo that appears on the rear and boarding side of each Metro Call-A-Ride van.
“It is extremely challenging to meet the widely varied demands of the community in providing over 10,000 trips per week on the service,” Willett added. “In order to accomplish this, we need a ‘buy-in’ from the entire team to put this very complex service on the street every day. I am extremely proud to have had the opportunity to lead such a great family of talent. We’re now looking forward to the next 25 years!”
Pittsburgh’s Port Authority of Allegheny County and the University of Pittsburgh (Pitt) have reached an agreement that will provide prepaid transit access for approximately 40,000 university students, faculty, and staff for the next five years.
“Our collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh as the first large-scale smart card partner has been incredibly valuable and we are extremely pleased to continue this partnership,” said Steve Bland, chief executive officer of the Port Authority.
The agreement provides for annual reimbursements by the university based on recorded usage by its students, staff, and faculty. Pitt’s annual payment to the public transit agency has increased by more than 50 percent over the past five years and is projected to continue generating additional revenue under this agreement.
Under the new agreement, reimbursements will be based on a per-ride formula rather than the previous flat payments based on historical/projected ridership numbers. What makes this change possible is the university’s implementation of smart card technology in its IDs, which allows for a more accurate ridership count and helps curb fraudulent use of IDs by former students or staff.
For each recorded ride, the university will reimburse Port Authority at 50 percent of the one-zone base fare, which currently is $2.50 per ride. The reimbursement rate would change automatically with any future one-zone base fare increase but with a maximum cap. The agreement is retroactive to July 1, 2012, and expires June 30, 2017.
Port Authority’s U-Pass program also provides public transit service to students and other personnel at Carnegie-Mellon University and Chatham University. Ridership from the three institutions is about 600,000 trips per month, or about 11 percent of the agency’s total ridership.
When the Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Capital Metro) in Austin, TX, received its third consecutive Gold Leadership Circle designation from the Texas Comptroller’s Office for financial transparency online, the agency found a uniquely appropriate way to let the public know.
Capital Metro has wrapped six buses in its fleet with a “seriously transparent” design suggesting an X-ray of the vehicle’s interior, showing skeletons driving and riding on the bus. These buses will operate throughout the agency’s service area during the next three months, spreading the message that the public can track every dollar the agency spends by visiting this link.
The program recognizes local governments that strive to meet a high standard of financial transparency by opening their books to the public and providing information in a clear, consistent, and user-friendly format. Capital Metro was the first Texas transit agency to earn the Gold transparency rating.
“We’ve made transparency and financial stability a cornerstone of the way we do business,” said Linda S. Watson, Capital Metro president/chief executive officer, “ so we will have the resources necessary to invest in our future, a future that will give all Central Texans more transportation choices.”
The agency is currently implementing a five-year capital improvement plan designed to help build a strong infrastructure throughout the entire five-county region. These improvements include MetroRapid, a new high-capacity transit mode coming to Austin’s busiest streets in 2014; the addition of more efficient and comfortable buses to the fleet; and implementation of Positive Train Control on its commuter rail line.
Photo by Brio Photography
Citilink in Fort Wayne, IN, recently received a 2012 Downtown Design Award for Outstanding Design & Technology from the Fort Wayne Downtown Improvement District.
The public transit agency received the honor in recognition of the opening of its Citilink Central Station, which provides passenger amenities including real-time bus arrival information, security cameras, indoor waiting area with restrooms, bus pass ticket vending machine, and on-site customer service personnel.
The facility’s design also incorporates geothermal heating, solar lighting, and environmental design to minimize maintenance costs.
Photo courtesy of Margaret E. Caviston
The Mid-America Regional Council (MARC) recently honored the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (KCATA) and the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) as part of the 2012 Sustainable Success Stories program for their implementation of the U-Pass program, the first university transit pass in the region.
UMKC students are eligible to ride all of KCATA’s The Metro bus routes and MAX Bus Rapid Transit with their student IDs, in return for paying a universal student fee.
KCATA and UMKC have promoted the U-Pass program through campus visits, student videos, social media, advertising, and other forms of outreach.
“U-Pass is popular with traditional and non-traditional students,” said KCATA General Manager Mark Huffer. “The positive experience that UMKC is enjoying is generating interest from other local colleges and universities. From creating a smaller environmental footprint to reducing the demand for on-campus parking, there are numerous benefits to this type of partnership.”
KCATA also noted that U-Pass has had a positive impact on its ridership. The program began in fall 2011, and Metro ridership for 2011 increased 5.7 percent. Ridership for the first half of 2012 is up 8.9 percent, due in part to new student riders.
MARC’s annual Sustainable Success Stories award program highlights projects that help create sustainable places and practices in the region.
BY KEVIN ELWOOD, Information Specialist, Greensboro Transit Authority, Greensboro, NC
The Greensboro Transit Authority (GTA) has long embraced its central task: the provision of public transportation services in the Greensboro, NC, area. It is the compelling drive of moving people full of dreams instead of mere containers full of goods.
In the area of paratransit, GTA’s responsibility for its human cargo is even more critical as the riders deal with a host of physical and emotional disabilities. They use our service so they can remain engaged with their friends, family, and community.
To provide appropriate care for these most sensitive of citizens, the GTA staff has begun participating in a series of Sensitivity Education and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Compliance sessions. Operators and supervisors from GTA and its paratransit service, SCAT, as well as agency management, meet for full-day sessions on Saturdays, receiving instruction on accommodating riders with varying special needs and focusing on such ADA issues as compliance requirements, definition of disabilities, and disability etiquette.
These interactive sessions—conducted by L. Diane Bennett of LD Bennett and Associates—begin with back-and-forth engagement in a classroom setting. As the day progresses, the training turns to video instruction and hands-on procedural applications such as efficient and effective wheelchair securement. Also, the participants have the opportunity to participate in role-playing, placing themselves in the position of a rider with a disability. Participants have readily embraced this new level of expectation in customer service, using the opportunity not only to learn from the facilitators but to also evaluate and share best practices with each other. Curious agency representatives have also taken the time to witness the activities and have given rave reviews for the effort and the expected outcomes.
We believe that the Sensitivity Education and ADA Compliance sessions will pay dividends not only for our paratransit riders and for GTA, but possibly also for other North Carolina public transit systems.
GTA Public Transportation Manager Libby James, against wall, joins operators and staff for the Sensitivity Education and ADA Compliance session.
PHILADELPHIA, PA—Nationally recognized public transit planner Margarita Gagliardi has joined Urban Engineers as vice president of transit planning.
Gagliardi has worked in the public transportation field for 35 years. She has been an FTA principal-in-charge for project management oversight for federally funded rail/transit projects; helped prepare environmental documentation for the Los Angeles-Anaheim segment of California High-Speed Rail; and provided oversight for an extension of MTA New York City Transit’s No. 7 subway line.
PHOENIX, AZ—Rick Brown has joined Valley Metro as chief engineer/director of design and construction.
Brown has more than 37 years of public transit design and construction experience in both the public and private sectors. Most recently, he served Houston’s Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County as senior director/chief engineer over engineering and major capital projects.
HAUPPAGE, NY—VHB announced that Timothy Quinn, P.E., has joined the firm as transportation design leader in its Hauppage office.
Quinn has 27 years of experience in designing improvements to interstate and arterial highways, secondary streets, and site roadways with specific expertise in utility relocation, highway drainage systems, cost estimates, and specifications. His experience includes the successful implementation of many large and complex transportation projects in the New York metropolitan area.
HUNTINGTON, NY—Stephen Veith has joined CooCoo Inc. as director of business development.
Veith has more than 30 years of professional sales and business development expertise, including the launch of several successful startup ventures in the technology sector.
POMPANO BEACH, FL—The South Florida Regional Transportation Authority Board of Directors announced the appointment of Frank Frione by Florida Gov. Rick Scott.
Frione is chief executive officer of GFA International Inc., an engineering consulting firm founded in 1988. He received the 2010 CEO of the Year Award from the South Florida Business Journal.
SALEM, OR—Larry Fast recently commemorated his 40 years as a bus operator for Salem-Keizer Transit.
Fast began his career in 1972, when he was the youngest public transit operator for the city of Salem. He has no immediate plans to retire.
DENVER, CO—John Rinard, P.E., has joined the International Infrastructure Group of CH2M HILL, based in the firm’s Doha, Qatar, office.
With almost 30 years of experience in engineering, construction, and program management, Rinard has worked on major transportation programs throughout North America, Southeast Asia, Africa, and Australia. Most recently he was director of major programs at AECOM.
MIAMI, FL—Ronald Colas has been named a vice president in the Miami office of Parsons Brinckerhoff. He will serve as the firm’s Miami area manager, responsible for managing operations in South Florida, the Caribbean, and Latin America.
Colas has 25 years of transportation industry experience. For the past 18 years, he has successfully managed and completed a wide range of civil engineering and aviation projects, including large program management contracts.
Chris French, Don Clifford, Kiki Sprague, David Holland, Gregg Snyder
SALEM, OR—Salem-Keizer Transit (Cherriots) announced the promotion of Chris French to planning analyst and Don Clifford to operations supervisor, as well as the hiring of Kiki Sprague as rideshare assistant, David Holland as service worker, and Gregg Snyder as interim capital projects manager.
French has worked for Salem-Keizer Transit for 10 years, beginning as an operator in 2002. He was promoted to operations supervisor in 2004.
Clifford, a public transit operator since 2010, fills the position left vacant to French’s promotion. His background includes 19 years of owning his own business and a strong background in customer service.
Sprague joined Cherriots with five years experience in marketing and administration.
Holland comes to the agency after three and a half years in the automotive industry, including work as a maintenance technician and team leader.
Snyder has capital project management experience with Pierce Transit in Tacoma, WA.