Passenger Transport - January 11, 2013
Signers of the Sacramento FFGA pose behind the signed document. From left: Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson; FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff; Sacramento City Councilmember Bonnie Pannell, chair of the RT board; California state Assemblyman Roger Dickinson; Pamela Haynes, president, Board of Trustees, Los Rios Community College District; DOT Secretary Ray LaHood; Rep. Doris Matsui (D-CA); state Assemblyman Ken Cooley; and RT General Manager/Chief Executive Officer Mike Wiley.
Passenger Transport invited APTA members to comment on their specific projects, top priorities, and public transportation-related New Year’s resolutions for 2013. Here are some of their responses.
Flora M. Castillo
New Jersey Transit Corporation (NJ Transit)
Using our groundbreaking Scorecard initiative as a guide, NJ Transit has worked to build a strong foundation to position New Jersey’s public transit agency to be stronger, more efficient, and more financially stable.
During 2012, NJ Transit accomplished a number of positive customer satisfaction achievements as a direct result of using performance standards and customer input. In 2013, I am confident that the agency’s continued efforts to transform itself through Scorecard will yield additional positive results for the customers.
This year, NJ Transit aims to apply the Scorecard methodology we used to improve on-time rail operations performance to achieve a similar result for its interstate bus customers, focusing on operations to and from the largest bus terminal in the country: New York City’s Port Authority Bus Terminal.
Also this year, NJ Transit will continue to tap into technology to improve the customer experience. We recently launched a pilot program to introduce our first real-time service information for bus customers. Called “MyBus Now,” this program uses “smart bus” technology to provide customers with access to real-time bus arrival estimates to a specific bus stop within a 30-minute window.
Other technology improvements on the horizon include the launch of an official mobile app and future expansion of the mobile ticketing pilot program.
Moving forward, NJ Transit remains focused on using Scorecard as the guide to making New Jersey’s public transit system even more attractive and convenient for residents and visitors alike. What the Scorecard initiative has made very clear is that every area of our operation has a direct tie-in to the customer experience.
It is our resolution to continue to uphold the Scorecard as the standard by which we get measured by the people who use our system every day.
Walter E. Allen
President & CEO
We are looking to grow significantly in 2013. Acumen will be working with Amtrak, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, and the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District on various projects throughout the next year, and we have our sights set on expanding delivery of our professional services in the greater Los Angeles, Miami, and Denver markets.
Acumen is expanding operations and maintenance support into a new business services area.
The firm’s top priority is its commitment to creating jobs in our home market (the San Francisco Bay area) and to rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure … one project at a time.
Acumen’s New Year’s resolution is to create 30 new jobs in 2013.
South Florida Regional Transportation Authority (SFRTA)/Tri-Rail
The year 2013 promises to be a successful and significant time for SFRTA.
Our ridership grew by 3.1 percent compared with the previous year. We recently accepted delivery of 16 new cars from Rotem Hyundai. With the arrival of more cars and, soon, locomotives, we will have almost our entire fleet in new or rebuilt condition. We will be poised to meet any opportunities presented, be they further increases in ridership or operating new and expanded routes.
Looking ahead, we are currently in negotiations with CSXT and Florida DOT to take over the maintenance and dispatch of the corridor. We have developed a plan to begin running commuter service on the FEC tracks around 2014.
At the beginning of 2013, SFRTA will break ground for our first LEED-certified station, replacing the existing Pompano Beach Station with what we hope will become our prototype for future stations.
We have also begun laying the foundation for the Wave, Fort Lauderdale’s new streetcar system.
Greater Peoria Mass Transit District (CityLink)
2012 was our best year ever! CityLink experienced the highest ridership in its 43-year history. We did not have to reduce service, nor did we increase fares. In fact, we reduced the fares that veterans pay to the same half fare that we have extended to persons with disabilities for years.
Next year, CityLink’s marketing efforts will be directed at the younger generation, educating them on the safety aspects of riding the bus while engaged in social networking rather than risking a fatal accident as a result of distracted driving. We will study the location and function of a new transit center in the northwest area of Peoria, launch a major effort to further develop our professional, well-trained staff, and search for ways to modernize our maintenance facility.
My personal New Year’s resolution for CityLink is to improve the health and wellness of employees. I’m setting myself as an example by using a treadmill desk: I used to sit on average five hours a day, but I now stand up at my treadmill desk all day long. By walking at 1 mile per hour, I should walk around 1,000 miles throughout the year, losing weight and lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Stephen R. Beard
Senior Vice President and Global Transit Market Sector Director
HDR Engineering Inc.
HDR will provide program management and station design for the new public transit system in Honolulu; planning and design-build services for two light rail extensions for Sound Transit in Seattle; design of a Metrolink commuter rail extension for San Bernardino, CA; planning for several extensions of Phoenix METRO light rail; program management, planning, design, and design-build services for streetcars all across the country including Los Angeles, Tucson (opening in 2013), Dallas, Houston, Omaha, St. Paul, Kansas City, Milwaukee, and the District of Columbia; the Green Line Extension rail project in Boston; subway station design in Toronto; and bus planning and design projects throughout North America.
Our top priority is to be a consultant of choice to the public transit industry, based on our focus on client needs and the quality of our professional staff. Our New Year’s resolution is to be the best possible partner to our clients as they work to improve public transit services around the world.
Vice Chair, Board of Directors
Fort Worth Transportation Authority (The T)
For 2013, The T has one big priority: the commuter rail project known as TEX Rail!
Obviously, we have other projects going on, but The T Board of Directors and the agency’s staff have a laser-like focus on what must happen with our federal New Starts application for this 37-mile corridor. TEX Rail will link our Central Business District and portions of southwest Fort Worth to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, Terminal B—and at the airport we’ll link up with Dallas Area Rapid Transit.
Regarding my work-related New Year’s resolution: Many of you may know that I left the Fort Worth Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in August to start my own business, The Rios Group Inc. For 2013, my resolution is to market, brand, and grow my new business.
Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County (RTC)
RTC is not just a public transit agency: it’s also the Metropolitan Planning Agency and street-highway building agency for its region, so we have many current projects.
First, we’re in the process of acquiring four electric buses from Proterra through a project funded by a federal TIGGER grant. We hope to have those vehicles in service this year. Preliminary estimates suggest that the new vehicles will save us $200,000 a year in fuel costs alone.
We’re also seeing a brighter future thanks to a modest improvement in the Nevada economy. We’ve seen modest growth in sales tax revenues over past the 12 months and unemployment in the Reno-Sparks region dropped below double digits. RTC wants to restore services cut during the more serious part of the recession.
In its capacity as the MPO, RTC has worked to develop a new regional transportation plan during the past 18-20 months. We need to take a close look at how we can maintain and improve public transit service with limited resources.
Nevada—probably more than many other state—was hit hard by the recession. RTC has gone through a number of organizational initiatives, downsized significantly, and now we’re adopting proven strategies to better leverage procurement, planning, and personnel processes so our people and resources can focus on delivering customer service.
San Mateo County Transit District (SamTrans)
Caltrain (Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board)
We are fully engaged in the SamTrans Service Plan, a comprehensive review of our fixed route service. The working premise for this effort has been to do more of what works, less of what doesn’t, and to try new things.
At Caltrain, we are planning the first phases of and conducting the Environmental Impact Report for the $1.5 billion modernization program, which will modernize and electrify Caltrain and prepare the way for high-speed rail service on the Caltrain right-of-way. We also will work closely with the California High Speed Rail Authority to begin planning the high-speed rail portion of the “blended system,” in which high-speed rail and Caltrain will share the right-of-way.
Our top priorities for 2013 are ridership growth on the bus side; maintaining and managing record ridership growth on the rail system; and associated challenges to on-time performance.
My work-related New Year’s resolution is to slow down to speed up. I hope to demonstrate that, by adopting a more thoughtful and deliberate pace and through effective prioritization, people can do more with less wear and tear.
Regional Transportation District (RTD)
RTD is looking forward in 2013 to the opening of the West Rail Line, a 12.1-mile light rail transit corridor with 12 proposed stations. The line is part of FasTracks, RTD’s voter-approved, multi-year comprehensive plan to expand quality public transit service in the Denver metro region.
On Jan. 1, RTD implemented Phase 1 of its smart card fare media program for EcoPass and CollegePass program participants. This new technology will change the way passengers pay fares and how RTD captures fare and ridership data. Early results have been encouraging and we anticipate expanding the program to include the remaining fare media (such as monthly passes) and “stored value” in the fall of 2013.
RTD’s top priorities for 2013 are to be the most efficient, cost-effective, and sustainable public transit agency in the U.S. and to continue to present accurate and timely information, sound advice, and good recommendations to the public, our employees, the Amalgamated Transit Union leadership, and to the RTD Board of Directors. Lastly, we will continue to invest heavily in our employees.
My New Year’s resolution is to continue to liberate talent. Understanding that 95 percent of leadership is follow-through, I want to help RTD leadership to listen closely and follow up, and to always be clear, transparent, and straightforward. And, finally, to continue to have fun with what I’m doing.
Capital Area Transportation Authority (CATA)
In our continual effort to enhance service to our valued customers, CATA is looking forward to a number of exciting projects in 2013:
* Design and engineering of the East Lansing multimodal station;
* Software installation that will allow CATA’s Facilities Department to track and maintain facilities, bus stops, and shelters;
* Real-time information tools;
* Hoping to go into project development on our BRT project;
* Implementation of new technology in trip scheduling and dispatching to gain efficiencies in paratransit service delivery;
* Corridor planning initiatives with Tri County Regional Planning, creating a vision for the Michigan Avenue Grand River corridor; and
* Working with Tri County and Smart Growth America on regional coordination opportunities.
CATA’s top priorities include securing more reliable state funding, moving our BRT project to project development, and improving regional coordination of services.
Senior Vice President
Our company manages on the basis of five values that make up what we call our corporate social responsibility:
* Minimizing environmental impact;
* Valuing our employees;
* Serving the local community;
* Delivering our promise to our customers; and
* Delivering world class-safety.
All of our projects and priorities revolve around these values.
One important project for our organization is to closely align our green initiatives with ISO 14001 standards. Achieving this certification represents adherence to the core standards used for designing and implementing an effective environmental management system. In 2012, First Transit worked toward and achieved ISO 14001 certification at our operation in Phoenix. We’ll continue our efforts towards achieving this certification at all of our facilities.
Safety remains one of First Transit’s highest priorities. We’ll reinforce the values of our safety programs through a variety of projects, including regular and recurring campaigns.
We’ll also focus time and energy on supporting community programs that provide value to the communities we serve. First Transit encourages all its employees to participate. One of the programs I’m most proud of in this category is the work done by an organization known as About Care, which provides support services for the homebound in Chandler, AZ. I’m proud to serve on the organization’s board and grateful for the support First Transit provides to it.
My New Year’s resolution is to work toward spending more face and phone time with our customers and less e-mail and texting. I can’t help but feel we are all slipping away from the importance of interacting with each other in the real world.
J. Barry Barker
Transit Authority of River City (TARC)
TARC is putting in a new fare collection system that we expect will help us revitalize the whole way we look at fares. We already have agreements with Humana, the city of Louisville, and the University of Louisville under which their IDs can be used as public transit passes. Now we can go to the next step: embedding a chip in these ID cards so we can monitor them more closely.
TARC has $4.4 million in federal funding it will use toward replacing its current fleet of downtown trolleys with all-electric replacement vehicles. We’re going from the traditional trolley-replica bus with its historic appearance to an ultra-modern, all-electric design. We’re changing the emphasis from historic to modernistic, brushing up the image of public transportation. It’s time to make a change.
At TARC, the top priority is always safety.
My New Year’s resolution is to work smarter. I won’t encourage my employees to work harder, because there’s no one here who isn’t already working hard, but we have to work smarter.
Senior Vice President, Worldwide Strategy and Business Development
Cubic Transportation Systems
In 2013, Cubic Transportation Systems will help move forward with open payment as we start up the first phases of the Chicago Transit Agency’s next-generation fare collection system. The new system will accept not only contactless bank cards like MasterCard PayPass and Visa payWave, but ultimately NFC mobile phone payments as well.
Cubic is also breaking new ground in the area of public-private partnerships (P3) to help public transit agencies modernize and update their payment and information infrastructure. Through a P3, an agency can transfer funding responsibility and help overcome budgetary or capital constraints.
A further top priority is to extend our deployments that integrate data from both intra- and extra-system sources as part of Cubic’s Nextcity vision. Integrated data can be used to provide public transit agencies the information they need to find further efficiencies while also enabling a better transit experience for the riders.
As for my personal professional resolution, I resolve to thoroughly enjoy myself at the upcoming 150th anniversary of the London Underground (the “Tube”), especially at the Cubic-sponsored restored steam train ride for the mayor of London and other notable VIPs.
FTA recently presented the Honolulu Authority for Regional Transportation (HART) with a $1.55 billion Full Funding Grant Agreement for rail transit in Honolulu. Participants in the signing ceremony included, from left: Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood; Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI); Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-HI); FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff; Rep. Mazie Hirono (D-HI); Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle; Irene Inouye, representing her late husband, Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-HI); Honolulu City Councilmember Ikaika Anderson; Honolulu City Council Chair Ernest Martin; and HART Chief Executive Officer Dan Grabauskas.
Representatives of the American Public Health Association (APHA) and APTA recently met to enhance the dialogue between the two organizations regarding the critical role of public transportation in providing access to health care services. APTA Chair Flora Castillo, who participated in the meeting via telephone, has set awareness of the connection between public transit and health care as one of the primary initiatives of her term. From left are APHA representatives Eloisa Raynault, transportation, health, and equity program manager; Susan Polan, associate executive director, public affairs and advocacy; and Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director; APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy; and APTA Vice President-Policy Art Guzzetti.
David Cangany joined the South Bend Public Transportation Corporation (TRANSPO) in South Bend, IN, as its new general manager on Jan. 7.
“Mr. Cangany brings a wealth of transit experience to TRANSPO. We are excited to have him as part of the team,” said TRANSPO Board Chairman John E. Leszczynski.
Cangany comes to TRANSPO from Cincinnati Metro, where he served most recently as performance manager and earlier as station manager for the agency’s Queensgate and Bond Hill operating facilities.
He previously was manager of special services for the Transit Authority of Northern Kentucky in Ft. Wright, KY, and transportation supervisor for IndyGo in Indianapolis. Cangany began his public transit career while he was a student at Indiana University in Bloomington, working as an operator for Indiana University Campus Bus Service and Bloomington Transit.
“I am really looking forward to joining the TRANSPO team—especially at this moment, with the many innovative, cutting-edge projects that are on the horizon,” Cangany said. “It is an extraordinary time to come on board and help improve the customer experience and promote the use of transit within the community. Being able to return home to Indiana makes this a remarkable opportunity,” he added.
Allen Wright has joined Woojin IS America Inc., the U.S.-based subsidiary of Woojin Industrial Systems Co. Ltd., of Korea, as its president and chief executive officer.
Wright brings to the firm extensive experience in maintenance, operations, marketing, and management, working for both public transit agencies and worldwide manufacturers and suppliers of railcars, systems, and components.
Woojin IS America Inc., based in Irwindale, CA, is a supplier of electrical and electronic equipment to the public transit industry.
Thales has named Jean-Bernard Lévy its chairman and chief executive officer following the resignation of Luc Vigneron. Lévy was previously a member of the company’s board of directors.
He is a graduate of the École Polytechnique and Télécom ParisTech. Most recently, he served Vivendi as chairman of its management board and, earlier, its chief executive officer.
Lévy began his career in 1979 with France Telecom as an engineer, later serving as deputy head of personnel. In 1995 he was appointed chairman and chief executive officer of Matra Communication, and in 1998 he joined Oddo et Cie as chief executive officer, then managing partner.
In addition to his corporate work, in 1986 he was an advisor to Gérard Longuet, the French minister for postal and telecommunications services. From 1993-95, he was chief of staff to Longuet, then the French minister for industry, postal and telecommunications services, and foreign trade.
Lévy is a chevalier of the Légion d’Honneur and an officer of the Ordre National du Mérite.
He said he is “very proud to be appointed to lead Thales. I have been aware for many years of the passion and the high-level expertise of the men and women who contribute to the group’s numerous successes in many countries around the world. In the global marketplace, Thales has all the strengths needed to play a leading role. I know I can count on the energy and commitment of all to meet the challenges ahead and work together to develop our group.”
The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) is responsible for about $2.6 billion in economic activity annually and supports approximately 24,000 jobs—not only in the metro Atlanta region it serves, but statewide.
That’s the major finding of The Economic Impact of Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority on the Economy and Labor Mobility of the Region. The study, released by the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute, analyzed MARTA’s direct and indirect effects on the economy from 2007 to 2011 based on its operating and capital budgets. It updated similar research conducted by the institute in 2007.
Researchers determined that MARTA’s presence boosts economic efficiency because “…employers are more likely to find workers who meet their needs and workers are able to commute to jobs that pay a market rate for their skills.”
A PDF version of the full report is available here.
Philip Anderson, 64, a member of the Regional Transportation District (RTD) Board of Directors from 1993-97, died Dec. 20.
“Phil was a very strong force behind the scenes working in favor of light rail expansion, but he never wanted credit for all of his hard work,” said Scott Reed, RTD assistant general manager for communications, who was an RTD staff member at the time of Anderson’s tenure on the board. “He was much more interested in doing the right thing than seeking the limelight, but Phil’s contributions cannot be overestimated.”
Anderson worked as a Colorado DOT researcher and policy analyst for 30 years, retiring in 2007. He then worked at URS Corporation as a transportation consultant until 2010.
Public transportation agencies throughout North America are moving forward on major projects in a variety of modes: commuter rail, light rail, heavy rail, modern streetcar, and Bus Rapid Transit (BRT). Here’s a preliminary list of new and expanded services scheduled to open in 2013.
Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, Boston: Fairmount Line improvements, adding Four Corners and Newmarket stations to the Fairmount Commuter Rail Line.
MTA New York City Transit: Nostrand/Rogers Avenues Select Bus Service (9.3-mile BRT), operating from Williamsburg Bridge to Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn.
Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority: Phase 1 of the Dulles Metrorail Project. This first component of the new Silver Line heavy rail runs 11.6 miles from the existing East Falls Church Station to Wiehle Avenue, incorporating four new stations in the Tysons Corner area.
District DOT, Washington, DC: H Street/Benning Road Streetcar (modern streetcar), which will operate between Union Station and Oklahoma Avenue.
Atlanta Downtown Streetcar (2.6-mile modern streetcar line) is a cooperative effort among the city of Atlanta, the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority, and the business community. It will serve a corridor from the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site to Centennial Olympic Park.
Miami Central Station, overseen by Florida DOT, will provide a new interchange for Miami-Dade Transit vehicles; South Florida Regional Transportation Authority/Tri-Rail commuter rail; and AirportLink to Miami International Airport.
The Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority in Tampa, FL, is preparing to open MetroRapid North-South, a 17.5-mile BRT route from downtown to the Temple Terrace Park-and-Ride, via Nebraska and Fletcher avenues.
The Jacksonville Transportation Authority’s BRT North Corridor will cover 9.3 miles with 13 stops, running along Boulevard Street, Norwood Avenue, and Lem Turner Road from downtown Jacksonville to Armsdale Road, over the Trout River.
The Regional Transit Authority of New Orleans has announced its plans to open the Union Passenger Terminal (UPT)-Canal Street Loyola Avenue Streetcar Loop prior to Super Bowl XLVII, Feb. 3 in New Orleans. The double-tracked alignment will run between the UPT and Canal Street, where riders can connect with the existing streetcar system. It covers 0.8 route miles or 1.6 track miles.
Midwest and Rockies
Regional Transportation District, Denver: West Line, a 12-mile light rail line between Denver’s Union Station and the Jefferson County Government Center in Golden, CO. It is one component of RTD’s comprehensive FasTracks program.
Roaring Fork Transportation Authority, Aspen, CO: VelociRFTA (BRT), from Aspen to South Glenwood. The route will feature 14 stations at nine locations.
Utah Transit Authority (UTA), Salt Lake City, will open three new TRAX light rail lines as part of its FrontLines 2015 capital program:
* Airport TRAX is a six-mile route between the existing Arena Station in downtown Salt Lake City and Salt Lake International Airport, with five new stations along North Temple and one at the airport.
* The Draper TRAX extension will add 3.8 miles to the existing Sandy/Salt Lake TRAX line, running from the existing 10000 South Sandy Civic Center Station to Pioneer Road in Draper.
* UTA is partnering with South Salt Lake to build and operate the Sugar House Streetcar, a 2-mile modern streetcar line.
The Metropolitan Council in Minneapolis-St. Paul is preparing to open the 16-mile Cedar Avenue BRT. The route operates between 28th Avenue Station and Mall of America in Bloomington and 215th Street in Lakeville, via Eagan and Apple Valley, MN.
Seattle’s King County Metro will launch two new RapidRide BRT lines during 2013. The RapidRide E Line will operate between downtown Seattle and Shoreline, while RapidRide F Line connects Burien to Renton via Tukwila.
Sun Tran in Tucson, AZ, is building Sun Link, the Tucson Modern Streetcar, which will operate on a 3.9-mile route from the University of Arizona to downtown Tucson. The streetcar also will serve Main Gate Square, the Fourth Avenue entertaining and shopping district, and the Mercado District.
Susan Berlin, senior editor, assisted with this story.
An artist's conception of the Tysons West Station on WMATA's Silver Line.
An image of UTA's Sugar House Streetcar.
Director, Communication and Marketing
Leadership APTA Class of 2013
How many people work at your agency?
Valley Metro has approximately 250 people.
How long have you worked in the public transportation industry?
I started my career at Valley Metro in January 2008, the year we opened our light rail system. It was quite a busy year for someone in the communications realm. So, I’m coming up on my fifth year.
How long have you been an APTA member?
I began my engagement with APTA in my first year, quite early, when I immersed myself in information about the public transit industry.
What drew you to a career in public transportation?
While many people say they fell into this career, I really pursued it. Public transit was an innovation that was changing my hometown—I’m born and raised in Phoenix, specifically in the central city, and my parents still live there. When the idea of light rail came along, I knew I wanted to be part of something that would so dramatically change my home and the neighborhood where I grew up. I applied for the job several times. Now I wouldn’t leave it.
Our light rail ridership is surpassing all records and is continuing to increase. On another level, I see changes in the culture of my hometown: nightlife; new restaurants; young people coming into downtown Phoenix and exploring it. Transit has had an incredibly positive impact.
What have you found to be the most valuable APTA benefit or resource – that helps you do your job?
The first thing is the contacts. The idea that I can pick up the phone and talk to a resource in another city—say, Dallas—about a project we’re doing is just invaluable.
And, of course, being in Leadership APTA. Phoenix is a young transit town compared to some of the cities and agencies I’ve had the opportunity to get to know through this program. The ability to connect with a face and a name, to see how some of these systems work and the agencies are organized, broadens my awareness of the industry and helps me to be better at my job and more effective for my agency.
Please explain why or how this has helped.
If I have an issue to address or an idea I’d like to try, it is not just my idea. It likely has been tried or experienced by other transit agencies.
I love knowing that I can make a quick phone call or send an e-mail to people who I know will respond promptly. There’s such a mutual respect for what we do and my counterparts are always honest and candid, which is helpful. Our agency is learning how to do its work better and better each day.
What do you like most about your job?
Two things come to mind immediately. First, I love the people—not only the team I work with every day, but also our customers. The men and women who ride our service are a diverse group and I love that. I’ll be on board and see a more mature woman heading to the airport with her luggage, sitting next to a Hispanic young person going to school—and they’re having a conversation. There aren’t a lot of other places where that happens.
I love the variety at my job. No one day is ever like any of the others; every day is something new, a new issue, a new challenge. What I appreciate about working in communications is being able to work with other departments and see what and how they do their jobs. I learn every day.
What is unique about your agency (what would readers be surprised to learn)?
In March of 2012, our board of directors agreed unanimously to hire a single CEO—Steve Banta—for both Valley Metro, the regional bus agency, and Valley Metro Rail, the regional rail agency. Over the last several months, we have created a very unified, more effective organization under the Valley Metro name.
Through my participation in Leadership APTA and other APTA programs, I occasionally hear perceptions about Phoenix: it’s hot and people here love to drive. Some of that is certainly true. What’s not as commonly understood is that we are quickly growing a transit mindset. We have a transit-supportive community and it’s growing. While we’re still a strong car culture, it’s shifting.
I keep finding more and more compelling reasons to love metro Phoenix in this job. I also don’t foresee leaving the public transit industry. I love what I’m doing, and I love this city.
Make sure you see Hillary Foose's video, now that you've read this!
Program Manager-Meetings and Conventions
What are the job elements you focus on the most (your primary responsibilities)?
I do logistics for some APTA conferences; I take care of registration, both in advance and on-site; and I’m in charge of all sponsorships at APTA meetings. A very small group of companies currently takes advantage of the sponsorship program, but other people have expressed interest as well and we’re looking for wider participation.
APTA also is expanding the scope of its sponsorship efforts.
Regarding the smaller APTA workshops, we begin our efforts in getting hotel contracts about a year in advance. On the other hand, because EXPO is such a major undertaking, we have to work about six years in advance. The regular major meetings—Legislative Conference, Bus & Paratransit Conference, Rail Conference, and Annual Meeting—we try to work three to four years in advance. When we meet in small or mid-size cities—most often for the Bus & Paratransit Conference—the hotels may not have the meeting capacity we need, so we also work with convention centers. The APTA Meetings Department also works with the convention and visitors’ bureaus in the cities we consider.
One of the advantages of working in the Meetings Department is the ability to work not only with members from all the different APTA membership categories, but also from representatives of all the different departments within the association—from marketing to conference programs, ever-changing technology, and of course accounting.
Do you have direct contact with APTA members? If so, please talk about recent times you’ve helped out a member.
I recently took a call from an APTA member who was having trouble doing an online meeting registration for the organization’s chief counsel. We discovered that the person had a corrupt record that had to be fixed before we could proceed with processing the registration.
People call the Meetings Department with questions about the meeting program, the hotel—sometimes about the registration fees.
I enjoy helping APTA members plan activities in conjunction with our conferences, such as finding space where they can hold customer appreciation events.
What initiatives, projects, or programs have you worked on at APTA that you have taken particular pride in completing?
The Meetings Department is an interesting place to work because we think of each APTA meeting a project with a definite completion date; in contrast, other departments may have open-ended projects. It’s always satisfying to wrap up a meeting.
The meeting planning process begins with the release of a Request for Proposals listing the basics of what we need from a venue. We then engage in some negotiations.
The Products & Services Showcases at major APTA meetings are far less intensive than the EXPO as far as preparation and registration. The showcases are open for just one day, unlike the three-day EXPO, and exhibitors don’t have to construct massive exhibits or import railcars.
How did you “land” at APTA? How long have you worked here?
I was working for another association that decided to cut one third of their employees. But I found APTA a good fit: I’ve worked here 26 years.
When I started, APTA held about five conferences a year. Now we do about two dozen conferences and workshops. As time passed, we saw an increased demand for educational sessions. That’s when we started doing exhibits: the members wanted more exposure to technology, so we decided to include educational exhibits in the conference schedule.
Have you held other jobs in the public transportation industry (besides working at APTA)?
No. I was an Army brat and my father was in the USA Transportation Corps—does that count?
Could you tell us something about yourself that might surprise us?
I enjoy reading published diaries and letter collections—I consider myself a “paper voyeur.” We’re a dying breed, as e-mail and texting are wiping out the art of letter writing.
I also like going to the theater, cooking, and am a Janeite—a devotee of Jane Austen. I have a whole bookcase that is nothing but sequels, prequels, and alternate versions of Pride and Prejudice.
Make sure you see Heather Rachels' video, now that you've read this!
Executives of public transportation agencies will gather Feb. 9-12 in Palm Springs, CA, for APTA’s Transit CEOs Seminar, hosted by SunLine Transit Agency.
In keeping with APTA Chair Flora Castillo’s theme, “It’s All About the People,” the seminar program offers professional development sessions including “Staying on Top of a Crisis,” led by Jim Moorhead, author of The Instant Survivor–The Right Ways to Respond When Things Go Wrong.
Noting that smart organizations implement a crisis management plan long before they find themselves responding to events, Moorhead has said few discussions are available on an individual level to help people better address troubling issues. Registrants will receive copies of Moorhead’s book in the APTA Registration Office at the seminar hotel, the Renaissance Palm Springs.
Other key educational sessions will highlight topics such as how public transit systems drive economic development, success stories resulting from APTA’s peer reviews, working with executive recruiters, developing negotiation strategies, labor trends, and funding and financing programs in use now.
This year’s seminar will introduce a new course of study on management style for executive staff members (“deputies”) with a career goal of moving to a chief executive officer position. This separate study track will begin with APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy’s “Breakfast for Deputy CEOs” and will feature an educational session on moving from manager to leader led by Linda J. Washington, former DOT assistant secretary for administration and president and CEO of the Washington Consulting Team.
Also in the management style track will be a session on professional public speaking and first-rate presentation skills, led by consultant Scott Marcus. It will cover barriers to effective communication, storytelling, questioning skills, handling hecklers or difficult people, persuasive communication, and impromptu speaking. Deputies and CEOs will participate in interactive sessions that involve creative thinking and the resolution of challenges.
The CEOs Seminar is a unique leadership forum that offers opportunities to exchange news with colleagues and learn from the best. The “CEOs XChange” session will feature peer-to-peer presentations on contracting services, rebuilding an agency in distress, reducing overtime and absenteeism, sustainability initiatives, mobility management, an inter-agency training program, a new paratransit business model, forming new public transit agencies and regionalism, technology, and frontline customer interaction. A luncheon program will bring together public transit CEOs and the presidents of two manufacturers on the challenges and realities of the Buy America requirements.
Other sessions and workshops will include:
* An FTA workshop on the “new” approach to triennial reviews, hosted by the CEOs of small public transit operations;
* Open discussions on members’ views and insights with CEOs and deputies organized by system size; and
* A roundtable discussion with Melaniphy and Castillo.
“With the federal surface transportation authorization law enacted in 2012, nearly 80 percent of transit ballot measures passed this year, and ridership ‘up’ for the past seven quarters, the emphasis at this seminar is on forward, new thinking,” Melaniphy said. “The interactions, networking, and discussions are engaging and relevant to your vision, leadership, and oversight of your organization’s success.”
Seminar registration is open now for CEOs and top-level executives/deputies of APTA member transit agencies at the APTA website. For more information on the educational content, contact Lynne Morsen. Registration information is available from Heather Rachels.
Public transportation professionals should plan to participate in a free webinar, “Virtual Trade Mission to China,” Jan. 28, 7-8:30 p.m. Eastern time. APTA is co-organizing this event in partnership with DOT, the Department of Commerce, and the Trade and Development Agency.
The virtual trade mission will provide an overview of China’s new public transportation priorities and project opportunities open to foreign businesses, and resources available to assist U.S. companies with exporting products and services.
To register, click here. More information is available from Julia Walker.
BY NEAL PEIRCE
“Leadership needs to be state and local—Republican and Democrat—governors and mayors taking bold steps, regardless of political affiliation, trying to solve problems.”
How refreshing to hear those words in today’s hyperpartisan world! And how difficult to make the vision work.
But the assertion does come from Pat McCrory, a politician who’s learned how to form crosspartisan alliances before. The former 14-year mayor of Charlotte, McCrory clinched the Republican nomination and then sailed to easy victory last November to be inaugurated earlier this month as the first big-city leader to become governor in North Carolina’s history.
McCrory initially caught my attention when, as mayor, he faced down Charlotte’s powerful developers by requiring sidewalks on most streets of new suburban tracts. Even more impressively, he fought fervid naysayers to win overwhelming voter approval for Charlotte’s now highly acclaimed and popular light rail line, delivering Charlotteans easy mobility and relief from congested traffic.
McCrory’s success showed the essence of being a mayor is not the ideology, certainly not the excessive partisanship so rampant in today’s national and, increasingly, state politics. Instead it’s pragmatism—dealing first and foremost with day-to-day constituent demands for efficient services such as policing, trash removal, fixing potholes, transit and more. And then setting a vision for the city’s long-term development.
The Southern setting is also significant. Historically, rural politicos often scorned cities as “cauldrons of evil.” Apparently that’s a dead and gone strategy in increasingly urban North Carolina: The ex-mayor of the largest city has won the governorship with thousands of votes to spare.
So what’s McCrory’s top priority as governor? It’s infrastructure. “I’m an Eisenhower disciple,” he told me. “Infrastructure can play a key role in helping the economy and helping communities, urban and rural alike.”
The big issue, he suggests, is to create a 25-year North Carolina infrastructure plan, and not just road building but four broad areas important to both cities and rural areas—transportation, water, energy and communications. His interest in joint approaches stems from his experience in Charlotte, “where we redid our water and sewer at the same time we expanded transit and road lines.”
But McCrory has ties to the usual anti-spending Republican right as well. His selection as budget director is Art Pope, a wealthy businessman who helped start conservative-oriented government think tanks and has helped bankroll a series of tea party-like Republican candidates for the legislature.
For transportation secretary, McCrory nominated Tony Tata, a retired Army general and former Fox News commentator who had recently served a stormy brief stint as Wake County school superintendent. Tata has no experience in U.S. road and transit issues, but McCrory notes: “He did a lot of the infrastructure in Afghanistan and Iraq. I figured if he could do it there, under fire, he can do it in North Carolina.”
Tata’s the man McCrory’s instructed to develop the state’s 25-year transportation plan as “a vision of where we need to build our infrastructure.” The idea, says the new governor, is “to show the draft plan to the public and then get feedback.” Will it cost money? McCrory assumes so, but says: “The problem in the past was asking people for money without showing them the plan.”
McCrory’s conservative side is illustrated by the issue of climate change—a special peril for North Carolina’s coastal communities. He’ll only say (without specifics) that the solution is “to clean the air, clean the water, clean the land.”
Yet his visionary side is indisputable. He questions how smart it is to grant cash and other incentives to draw industries from one state to another. Companies’ real bottom line, he suggests, is more likely long-term tax rates, education, infrastructure, quality of life. And, he believes that “incentives aren’t free—they’re a tax on someone else.”
Pragmatically, he’s not sure he’ll be able to stop incentives in view of North Carolina’s currently slow economy. “When do you blink when so many people are hurting?” He’s not sure—though he believes agreements with other governors might avert the need.
And significantly, McCrory was a key founder, in 2009, of a multistate Southern coalition to plan joint approaches—the Piedmont Alliance for Quality Growth. Now, he says, he’d like to recruit his fellow governors from Georgia, South Carolina, Virginia and Tennessee to work with him on a regionwide 25-year transportation agenda.
Referring to the other governors, McCrory says: “At one moment I’ll be competing with my friends next door” for businesses. “But I’ll also seek alliances with them on a broad array of issues—energy, oil and gas exploration, electric generation, solar and wind, ports, water, roads and transportation crossing infrastructure, the environment—major issues the state borders don’t recognize.”
Again, it’s Pat McCrory—mixed visionary, pragmatist, friend of many moderates and ultra-conservatives alike. I detect few more interesting mixes in today’s American politics and public life.
E-mail Neal Peirce.
© 2013, The Washington Post Writers Group