Passenger Transport - February 22, 2013
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Obama Proposes Investments for Public Transportation

President Barack Obama fleshed out plans Feb. 20 to invest in public transportation and repair the nation’s aging infrastructure, building on a theme he announced during the State of the Union address on Feb. 12.

These plans expand on three major themes and propose initiatives that capitalize on private investment to help start projects.

“Investing in infrastructure not only makes our roads, bridges, and ports safer and allows our businesses and workers to be as competitive as they need to be in the global economy,” Obama said in a prepared statement released by the White House, “it also creates thousands of good American jobs that cannot be outsourced.”

The primary components of Obama’s plan include:

* Investing in a “fix-it-first” policy. The plan would immediately invest $50 billion in the nation’s transportation infrastructure, with $40 billion targeted to upgrades and focused on fixing public transportation systems, highways, bridges, and airports most in need of repair.

* Attracting private investment through a “Rebuild America Partnership.” The president’s plan would partner federal, state, and local governments with businesses and private capital to provide transportation, electric, water, and communications networks. This proposed investment partnership has three components:

   * A National Infrastructure Bank to leverage private and public capital to support infrastructure projects of “national and regional significance,” invest in a broad range of infrastructure projects, and operate as an independent, wholly owned government entity;

   * America Fast Forward Bonds program, which would broaden the Build America Bonds program from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) to attract new sources of capital for infrastructure investment—including from some public pension funds and foreign investors—among other features; and

   * An expanded Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act program, which provides direct loans, loan guarantees, and lines of credit to regionally or nationally significant transportation projects, was expanded in the recent MAP-21 authorization. The Obama administration said the increase “highlights the important role that infrastructure financing can play in catalyzing private investment, and its expansion was a significant step towards more innovative infrastructure financing.”

* Cutting red tape. This part of Obama’s plan would eliminate red tape in permits and review for infrastructure projects and speed up plans for surface transportation projects, among others.

The White House statement also summarized several of its recent transportation-related initiatives under ARRA and existing programs: “Over the last four years, the Department of Transportation has built or improved more than 6,000 miles of rail, 40 rail stations, and purchased 260 passenger rail cars and 105 locomotives.” It also noted that the administration has invested in more than 350 miles of new rail and bus rapid transit, 45,621 buses, and 5,545 railcars.

The full statement is available here.

VIA Launches ‘Primo’ BRT Line

VIA Metropolitan Transit, San Antonio, TX, recently introduced service on the region’s first high-capacity Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) line—VIA Primo.

“This is an exciting day for our bus riders and the greater San Antonio community,” said Jeff Arndt, VIA interim president/chief executive officer. “Today we begin service on the first high-capacity transit mode in the VIA service area, and we are setting this agency on the path to becoming a multimodal system. The amount of planning and construction related to the development of VIA Primo has been significant, but the results are well worth it, and the benefits will be realized for decades to come.”

Primo operates daily between 4 a.m. and 1 a.m. between downtown San Antonio and the new South Texas Medical Center Transit Center. It stops at designated stations along the way and at the Westside Multimodal Transit Center. Every 30 minutes, the service runs on an extended route that serves the main campus of the University of Texas at San Antonio.

VIA also introduced new, 60-foot articulated buses to serve the Primo route. The vehicles, powered with compress natural gas, include interior room for up to three bicycles and free Wi-Fi for passengers.

The South Texas Medical Center Transit Center replaces the previous transfer point on Merton Minter. It features additional bus bays and a larger staging area for the 60-foot VIA Primo vehicles. Amenities in the indoor waiting area include air conditioning, restrooms, vending machines, and a ticket window providing customer service. The facility also offers real-time bus arrival displays and free parking.

With the goal of providing renewable energy, VIA designed the South Texas Medical Center Transit Center with solar panels.


Crowds board VIA Metropolitan Transit’s Primo BRT service on opening day.


LaHood to Keynote Legislative Conference

DOT Secretary Ray LaHood, who has announced his plans to step down from that post, will present the keynote speech at the March 11 Opening General Session of the APTA Legislative Conference in Washington. This is likely to be one of the last opportunities APTA members will have to hear from LaHood before his departure.

APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy and APTA Chair Flora M. Castillo will offer welcoming remarks at the morning session, “What’s Ahead for Transit—New Opportunities in 2013.”

That afternoon, the “Update from U.S. DOT” will bring together FTA Administrator Peter M. Rogoff and FRA Administrator Joseph C. Szabo to present major program updates and initiatives of interest to the public transit industry.

The conference will also offer presentations by pundits, congressional staff, and a session titled “Funding the Future of Transportation” featuring a panel of key stakeholders.

Register now for the APTA Legislative Conference, March 10-12, by clicking here.





DOT Announces $12.5 Million for National Parks Access

DOT has just announced grants totaling $12.5 million for 29 projects in 20 states to improve access to the nation’s national parks, forests, and wildlife refuges. The funds—provided through FTA’s Paul S. Sarbanes Transit in Parks Program—will help reduce traffic congestion and provide increased access to these sites.

“Improving access to modern transit services throughout our scenic parklands and protected areas will help us to preserve these national treasures for future generations,” said DOT Secretary Ray LaHood.

“By taking cars off the road and reducing harmful emissions and pollutants in our nation’s most natural and pristine settings, we’re helping Americans and visitors from around the world enjoy these public lands as they were meant to be enjoyed,” said FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff. “From new pedestrian walkways and bicycle trails to energy-efficient shuttle buses, these investments help to keep our parks sustainable for years to come.”

A complete list of projects, along with a map, is available here.

These funds are part of $80 million distributed to 134 Transit in the Parks projects across the country over the last three years. This grant program was not reauthorized under the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act passed by Congress in 2012. Going forward, public transportation projects serving national parks and other federal lands remain eligible for funding under the Federal Lands Transportation Program administered by the Federal Highway Administration.

APTA Launches Early Career Program

APTA has announced the launch of its newest professional development program: the year-long Early Career Program, designed for rising public and private sector members of the public transportation industry.

This new program is the direct result of studies identifying this early career population as one of the most vulnerable to leave the public transit industry. The program arises from initiatives proposed by the Workforce Development Task Force, led by APTA Chair Flora Castillo.

The Early Career Program aims to broaden awareness of the breadth and depth of the public transit industry. It is designed for those with three to five years of work experience, including one to two years in management.

Participants will attend customized workshops, site visits, and virtual sessions to sharpen their skills as new managers in areas including communications, budgeting, project and program management, and supervision. A hallmark of the Early Career Program will be an industry mentoring program.

Castillo listed ways in which the Early Career Program curriculum differs from other educational efforts.

“Participants can learn the ‘bigger picture’ of the public transportation industry: public and private sectors; industry partners—federal, regional, municipal; the roles of business community, academic institutions, and many others,” she said. “They will come to understand and appreciate the industry’s overarching components: its many successes, challenges, people, and opportunities. They will develop the knowledge, skills, and insights industry general managers, CEOs, and executive leaders are looking for when identifying up-and-comers within and for their organizations. They will leverage the benefits of working with national and local industry mentors to learn the industry and benefit from feedback and advice regarding work and career planning. And they will build their networks with industry leaders and experts as well as other promising early career individuals.”

The year-long program is scheduled to include these components:

* Opening Session. Participants will engage in a three-and-a-half day workshop session just prior to the 2013 APTA Rail Conference in Philadelphia. Workshop topics will include goal-setting, communications skills, project and people management, administration (finance and budgets), career development, and other areas, plus roundtable discussions addressing public transit industry challenges and related topics. Program participants will meet their mentors, engage in dialogues with industry leadership, and benefit from customized industry tours.

* Mentor Program. Mentoring will be the hallmark of this program. Working in small groups, mentors and mentees will communicate regularly over a 10-month period, discussing assigned industry topics and challenges as well as career advancement needs and issues identified by early career individuals.

* Virtual Learning. This program will leverage a range of technology tools and social media resources. Participants will demonstrate their lessons learned and experiences by leading two to three webinars over the course of the year. They will maximize online collaboration sites and the power of social media for class members to engage and communicate with each other, their mentors, and industry peers, leaders, and experts.

* Capstone Session and Graduation. Program participants and mentors will meet for three to four days immediately preceding the 2014 APTA Bus and Paratransit Conference in Kansas City, MO. Class member presentations, additional skill-building workshops and training sessions, roundtable forums, site tours, and a high profile graduation ceremony will bring the year-long program to a formal close.

Applications for the Early Career Program are due by March 22. APTA plans to select 25 participants representing the diversity of the industry.

Further details, including planned curricula, sessions, mentor program, fees, and application requirements, can be found here. Questions may be addressed to Joe Niegoski.

FTA Seeks Comments for New Starts and Small Starts

FTA is inviting comments by March 11 to proposed policy guidance accompanying the final rule that sets a new regulatory framework for projects seeking federal New Starts and Small Starts funds.

The proposed policy guidance complements the final rule by providing a deeper level of detail about New Starts and Small Starts projects and describes the measures FTA intends to use to evaluate projects that seek the funding, if adopted. The final rule, unveiled in early January, takes effect April 9.

For details on how to submit comments, click here. To learn more about the guidance, visit this website.

APTA’s Policy and Planning Committee is gathering input and developing draft comments. Information is available from Rich Weaver. In addition, FTA officials will lead a workshop on the final rule and proposed policy guidance during APTA’s upcoming Legislative Conference, March 10-12 in Washington.

New Starts and Small Starts is one of the federal government’s largest competitive grant programs. It funds roughly half the cost of new and extended light rail, commuter rail, bus rapid transit, and ferry systems built in the U.S. In Fiscal Year 2012, the program provided more than $2 billion for capital projects to help build public transit projects.

Transit CEOs Meet at Professional Development Seminar

BY LYNNE MORSEN, APTA Senior Program Manager-Member Support

Public transportation chief executives and their deputies convened Feb. 9-12 at the 2013 APTA Transit CEOs Seminar. SunLine Transit Agency in Thousand Palms, CA, was host system for the seminar.

APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy and APTA Chair Flora Castillo opened the seminar and later led an interactive roundtable to engage members on diversity, inclusion, and workforce development.

Selene Faer Dalton-Kumins, director, FTA Office of Oversight and Program Guidance, oversaw a workshop on the agency’s new approach to triennial reviews. The seminar schedule also included an educational session on crisis management—including managing oneself as well as staff—led by Jim Moorhead, author of The Instant Survivor: The Right Ways to Respond When Things Go Wrong.

Other key sessions during the seminar featured labor trends; funding and financing programs; economic development; APTA peer reviews; and the executive recruiting process.

Enrique Washington, partner and chief executive officer, The Generator Group, addressed the group about management skills. He provided materials describing the traits and experience most often requested by public transit agency boards in seeking a new chief executive officer.

The schedule also included seminars specifically designed for deputy chief executive officers, focusing on leadership and making persuasive presentations.

The CEOs XChange session offered participants the opportunity to speak with their peers about successful programs in place at their agencies.

The closing session highlighted new trends in Buy America: new procurement techniques that the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) and Los Angeles Metro have used to obtain higher U.S. content in their recent vehicle procurements. Speakers included BART General Manager Grace Crunican and Victor Ramirez, deputy executive officer, Los Angeles Metro. Moderator Jeffrey Boothe, partner at Holland & Knight, presented new FTA interpretations of Buy America provisions. Michael Cahill, president of Siemens Rail Systems Division, and Paul Soubry, president and chief executive officer of New Flyer, added private-sector views on increasing U.S. jobs in railcar and bus procurements.

APTA will hold its 2014 Transit CEOs Seminar Feb. 8-11 in New Orleans.



Photos by Gregg Felsen

Charlotte Area Transit System Deputy Director John Muth, P.E., Gold Coast Transit General Manager Steven Brown, and other participants review a scenario and discuss action plans for a unique situation during the session, “Staying on Top of a Crisis,” at APTA’s Transit CEOs Seminar.

APTA Chair Flora M. Castillo, CHIE, and Peter Varga, APTA’s Vice Chair and chief executive officer, Interuban Transit Partnership, display “It’s All About the People” buttons.



Among the speakers at the CEOs XChange, from left: Paul Matsuoka, Livermore Amador Valley Transit Authority; Julie Austin, Antelope Valley Transit Authority; David Springstead, Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority; and David Armijo, AC Transit.

APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy hosts the Monday Morning Breakfast for Deputy Chief Executives. Joining him are Marcelle Epley, left, chief administrative officer and senior vice president, Long Beach Transit (LBT), and Robyn Gordon Peterson, chief operating officer and senior vice president, LBT.



Peterson to Head Washington State DOT

Lynn Peterson, a former planning manager with Portland’s Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon, has been named secretary of Washington State DOT by Washington Gov. Jay Inslee.

“We need an innovative approach to fixing a transportation network that is outdated and hampering our economic growth,” Inslee said in a statement. “Lynn has the experience, creativity, and leadership skills to help Washington build a transportation system for the 21st century.”

Peterson chaired the Clackamas County (OR) Board of Commissioners until 2011, when she resigned to become advisor on sustainability and transportation to Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber. Earlier, she was a transportation consultant and a transportation planner at Metro, the Metropolitan Planning Organization for the Portland region.


PATH Names Kingsberry to Permanent Post

The Port Authority Trans-Hudson Corporation (PATH), Jersey City, NJ, has named Stephen Kingsberry its permanent director and general manager. He previously served in those positions on an acting basis.

Kingsberry formerly served as executive director of Delaware Transit Corporation in Dover.

For APTA, he is a member of the Legislative Committee, Rail Transit CEOs Subcommittee, and Rail Transit Committee.

Prendergast Joins Executive Committee

Thomas F. Prendergast, president, MTA New York City Transit, has joined the APTA Executive Committee. He succeeds Joseph J. Lhota, who stepped down as executive director of the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Prendergast is serving in that post on an interim basis.

Prendergast’s term ends at the 2015 APTA Annual Meeting.



Meet Raul Bravo!

Raul Bravo
Raul V. Bravo + Associates, Inc.
Reston, VA
Chair, APTA Standards Development and Oversight Council
Chair, International Subcommittee, APTA P3 Projects Committee

How many people do you employ/how many people at your agency/business?
55 full-time engineers and professionals and 45 part-time associates.

How long have you worked in the public transportation industry?
37 years.

How long have you been an APTA member?
18 years.

What drew you to a career in public transportation?
I was a project engineer working for Ford Motor Co. I worked there for about nine years. It was a very exciting and challenging opportunity, but at that time—in the 1970s—it was obvious that public transportation was entering the early stages of a renaissance.

Events such as the energy crisis helped me recognize the need to further develop a comprehensive transportation network, so I became involved with public transit. I viewed this as an exciting and challenging opportunity, also because of the importance of mass transit as a public service.

Raul V. Bravo + Associates mostly deals with public transit systems, including rail and buses. We provide services from the early stages of planning, project development, and procurement, and manage project delivery and support operations and maintenance. Safety and security planning is also included in our portfolio. We believe that in order to best serve the needs of our clients, we must have solid knowledge and understanding of all aspects of a transportation project.

What have you found to be the most valuable APTA benefit or resource – that helps you do your job?
The ability to participate with my peers and colleagues through APTA committees, task forces, and other membership groups in the development of a true and sustainable national transportation network.

Please explain why or how this has helped.
I have been able to join in a healthy and sometimes intense exchange of ideas, with common sense objectives and goals.

For example, I chair the APTA Standards Development and Oversight Council. The creation of standards has brought together all sides of the public transit industry to create an updated, state-of-the-art system.

Before the creation of standards, individual agencies developed their own requirements and specifications, leading to confusion in the industry. Not only that, the cost of developing such systems and technologies was very high because the development work had to start fresh each time. In contrast, I recently completed a cost-benefit analysis for using APTA Standards that showed $82 in savings for every dollar invested in the process. I achieved this result through an assessment of cost benefits applying to the initial development of standards, as well as the cost of maintaining vehicles and systems not covered by any existing standards.

This was a necessary effort in order to justify the investment and maintain FTA as a partner in the effort. I knew the benefits were significant, but did not expect the magnitude.

What do you like most about your job?
I am 75 years old and still involved in the mass transit industry, because I believe in it and the service it offers to the public. I’ll continue to stay active because of the satisfaction in accomplishing meaningful and worthwhile objectives. It keeps me awake, keeps me going. It’s a very satisfying and rewarding business.

What is unique about your business (what would readers be surprised to learn)?
I founded Raul V. Bravo + Associates as a one-man shop in 1979. Today, after 34 years of measured and steady growth, we have a staff of about 100 full- and part-time professionals, have worked for almost 250 clients in the public and private sectors, and have delivered projects in over 25 countries.

I am very proud of our staff, especially my two sons helping RVB+A to continue delivering meaningful and practical solutions. I love participating in it. I can see the wide involvement of our company in all areas of transportation—rail, bus—and also the impact of our work in the communities.

Make sure you see Raul Bravo's video, after you've read this!


Meet Billy Terry!

Billy Terry
Senior Legislative Representative
Government Affairs

What are the top job elements you focus on the most (your primary responsibilities)?
I track legislation relevant to the public transit industry, communicating the industry perspective to members of Congress and committee staff.

I am part of the APTA Government Affairs team working to shape the next surface transportation authorization bill, which will go into effect after MAP-21 expires in 2014.

Public transit homeland security issues are another major issue; I help to advocate for increased federal investment for public transportation homeland security grants and other provisions that assist agencies’ efforts to secure their systems. Public transit agencies of all sizes have security infrastructure needs ranging from fortifying tunnels and bridges to chemical detection systems, from surveillance cameras and other equipment to enhanced fencing and lighting around bus and rail yards.

Do you have direct contact with APTA members? If so, please talk about the two most recent times you’ve helped out a member.
I have a great deal of direct contact with APTA members and love it! Members often call each of us on the APTA Government Affairs team for information, clarity, etc. on the status of bills and other congressional activity.

Most recently, our team has been working to provide members with information on program impacts of potential federal budget cuts and issues related to the implementation of various MAP-21 provisions.

Additionally, people will call and ask general questions like, when’s the federal budget coming out, or when will Congress vote on the budget? They may want clarification and updating on one specific bill, or a general overview of congressional action.

APTA members may ask me about a particular provision of a piece of legislation. I provide information on the provision and APTA’s interpretation of it. They may also be interested in the efforts of individual members of Congress, often from their home district, or where a piece of legislation is in the enactment process.

What initiatives, projects, or programs have you worked on at APTA that you have taken particular pride in completing?
Over the past several years, I have been engaged with APTA members and industry partners on tax issues that impact public transit providers. In particular, I have worked hard to advocate for congressional support of both public transit commuter benefits, which help defray rising public transportation commuting costs for millions of workers across the country, and the Alternative Fuels Tax Credit, which immensely supports transit providers that have made significant investments in natural gas vehicles and infrastructure.

Most recently, we have seen extensions of both commuter benefits and the Alternative Fuels Tax Credit. These extensions are great—but there is still much work to be done to make them permanent!

How did you “land” at APTA? How long have you worked here?
While working at the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), a longtime APTA member, I had a few opportunities to work with the APTA Government Affairs team on various legislative issues. I was always impressed with APTA’s professionalism and command over a range of public transit-related issues. When the association made some changes to its Government Affairs staff, an opportunity arose … and here I am!

I have worked at APTA for a little over a year.

Have you held other jobs in the public transportation industry (besides working at APTA)?
I previously worked at a large government affairs firm representing public transit agencies and municipalities providing public transportation; the District of Columbia DOT; and WMATA, serving as the agency’s liaison to Capitol Hill.

Could you tell us something about yourself that might surprise us?
Although it may not seem that way, I am really an introvert!

Make sure you see Billy Terry's video, now that you've read this!


Listening, Learning, Sharing

BY FLORA CASTILLO, Board Member, New Jersey Transit Corporation, Newark, NJ, and APTA Chair, 2012-2013

In the past few months, I’ve been honored to participate in a few meetings of members where lively, forward-looking conversations have taken center stage. During these gatherings, I’ve been reminded of a wise saying: We have two ears and one mouth so we can listen twice as much as we speak.

While I’ve had ample opportunities to speak with members—to share my thoughts about our industry’s future and APTA’s agenda—I am especially grateful for the many chances to listen, whether in large, open meetings; small, focused discussions; or one-on-one conversations. I’m delighted to report that I’m hearing positive comments about APTA from members, including public transportation leaders at the recent Transit CEOs Seminar and executives at the Business Members Board of Governors (BMBG) meeting.

Your feedback is clear: APTA’s priorities are your priorities. Here’s what that means, in terms of programs and initiatives APTA is conducting to champion your interests.

First—and for me, most important—“It’s All About the People,” my overarching theme as APTA’s chair. Whether you’re talking about your riders, employees, or communities, it’s clear that people come first for you, too.

Next is our shared interest in workforce development—still “All About the People!” Our workforce is the lifeblood of our industry, but we face a wave of retirements, including at senior levels. Many public transit agencies are implementing succession planning strategies to promote and retain executives, and they should be commended.

At all levels, however, we must recruit and prepare the next generation of public transit workers; create career paths that retain new workers; and take bold actions to engage diverse individuals in our industry. APTA is taking such action.

A few months ago, the association distributed a diversity and inclusion survey to identify our current practices and set a baseline for progress. For those of you who completed it, thanks for your candid feedback. The APTA Executive Committee is reviewing the results, which they’ll forward to the Diversity Committee. We’ll have results to share soon.

Even without specific data, I know that our industry is committed to diversity and inclusion. There are many examples that we can celebrate and for which we should be proud.  The process to diversify—to reach out to minorities and women—makes us stronger by opening us up to new ideas and experiences. It is not enough to diversify, however; we must also ensure that diverse individuals are included at the highest of levels of our industry. It’s a win/win—the best possible outcome. APTA’s working on important workforce development initiatives.

Last year, I chaired the Workforce Development Task Force, which worked with APTA staff to develop the Early Career Program. One of the program’s central features is its mentoring component. We’ll be pairing these up-and-comers with seasoned veterans who can provide the real-world help that’s so important in developing a career path and setting goals. See page 3 for details about this program.

In early February, APTA unveiled the online Veteran and Military Family Resource Center to strengthen the connections between transit systems and veterans. Not only does this website help build our workforce, it also supports veterans by featuring links to job fairs and hiring programs and by serving as a resource clearinghouse.

My final point about our shared priorities is authorization. The passage of MAP-21 was a step in the right direction, but we have more to do. The challenge—and it’s a big one for all of us—is that MAP-21 expires in less than two years. We need to ramp up now to secure a long-term multimodal authorization bill. APTA has hit the ground running.

One of the key take-aways from the recent Transit CEOs and BMBG meetings is that we need to intensify our efforts to show the value of public transit in local communities. And we have heard you loud and clear!

In December, I worked with the Legislative Committee to set up an Authorization Task Force to evaluate MAP-21 and develop recommendations. The task force members and co-chairs are some of our best movers and shakers, so expect to see substantive recommendations soon. We’ll need your help to get those recommendations into new legislation.

APTA’s goal is to build an “army of advocates” in every corner of our country so we can storm Capitol Hill and get public transportation fully funded for the long haul. We need you to enlist!

Your voice is essential. Our message—public transportation is a powerful economic engine that puts people to work and takes people to work—strongly resonates with Congress. If we’re going to keep this engine stoked, we need steady, predictable, certain federal funding.

Please leverage your unique influence with your elected leaders. Passing a good bill will take all of us.

As I continue my tenure as chair, I’m always privileged to meet the men and women who make public transportation work, whether they’re with a public transit agency, a business in the supply chain, or a community-based partner. “It’s All About the People,” and that includes you!


Cherriots Offers Free Rides to ‘Polk Community Connect’

Salem-Keizer Transit (Cherriots) in Salem, OR, provided free rides to Polk Community Connect, a recent resource fair in Independence, OR, for area residents who are in need, homeless, or at risk of homelessness. The Chemeketa Area Regional Transportation System (CARTS), providing service to rural Polk and Marion counties, helped with service to the event, which drew almost 400 participants.

Resources and services provided at the all-day event included health screenings for 71 people, dental care for 43 individuals, and haircuts for 80 people, as well as meals served throughout the day. Guests received resource information from 26 service providers and took advantage of pet care, bicycle repair, clothing distribution, child and youth services, education, employment, housing, veterans benefits, and mental health support.

The Polk County Commission for Children and Families Board provided funding for the fair.


Cherriots and CARTS transported Polk County residents to the recent Polk Community Connect resource fair.


‘CATA-Man’ Spreads the Word to Young Riders in Lansing

A new superhero has emerged in Lansing, MI, through a multimedia campaign to inform area students about the benefits of the Capital Area Transportation Authority (CATA) and its semester passes.

He’s “CATA-Man,” who represents the agency’s benefits: reliability, safety, convenience, and cost-effectiveness. He appears in multiple media formats: digital/mobile (online), digital outdoor, mobile outdoor, student print publications, social media, and posters in local pubs and restaurants.

“Just like our dedicated CATA workers, CATA-Man helps members of the community get where they need to go,” said Chief Executive Officer/Executive Director Sandy Draggoo. “CATA-Man is the personification of CATA in a way that is fun and a little over the top. He does all the things CATA does—picks riders up on time, saves them gas money, gets students around campus and the community easily and affordably, serves as a safe and reliable alternative in bad weather or for traversing campus late at night—only he’s flashier about it.”

The current campaign targets students attending Michigan State University, Thomas M. Cooley Law School, Davenport University, and Lansing Community College, as well as all public middle- and high-school students. CATA-Man will also be at the center of an advertising campaign aimed at the general public that will roll out later this year.


An example of the “CATA-Man” promotional campaign in Lansing, MI.


Chattanooga’s CARTA Marks 40th Anniversary of Service

The Chattanooga Area Regional Transportation Authority (CARTA) in Chattanooga, TN, is celebrating the 40th anniversary of its founding this year. But that’s only the latest step in a public transit story dating back to 1875, when the first horse-drawn trolley cars entered service on Market Street from the Tennessee River to what is now Martin Luther King Boulevard.

CARTA commemorated the anniversary with a day of free rides on both its fixed routes and paratransit service. It also invited customers to “Tell us your favorite CARTA story or experience,” with free 31-day bus passes going to the winners.

Chattanooga replaced its horse-drawn trolleys with electric streetcars in 1889. Both streetcars and motor buses remained in operation until 1941, when Southern Coach Lines took control of public transit activities. The last streetcar line was discontinued shortly after the end of World War II. The city purchased the assets of Southern Coach Lines to create CARTA in 1973.

In addition to its buses, CARTA operates the Lookout Mountain Incline Railway, the steepest passenger railway in the world; the Downtown Electric Shuttle, which operates a large fleet of electric buses; and CARTA Care-a-van paratransit. It also manages a parking system comprising three parking garages, on-street metered parking, and parking lots.

MATA Airways Transit Center Granted LEED Silver Certification

The Memphis Area Transit Authority’s (MATA) Airways Transit Center recently received LEED Silver certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, becoming the first newly constructed, publicly funded building in Shelby County, TN, to be so recognized.

The 30,000-square-foot facility, which opened in November 2011, is a major focal point for local public transit service in the Whitehaven area and also serves as the new Greyhound intercity bus terminal for Memphis, replacing its decades-old home downtown. It also provides improved connections to the Memphis International Airport, which is within two miles of the new facility.

The Airways Transit Center achieved Silver certification through the inclusion of energy efficiency features such as a white roof that reflects sunlight and heat; less use of asphalt paving and preservation of green space to reduce the urban heat island effect; energy-efficient lighting, glass windows, and HVAC systems; water-conserving fixtures and landscaping; and the use of recycled materials. These measures are expected to lower operating costs for the center.

The center also showcases public art, developed in collaboration with the Memphis Urban Art Commission and artist Walter Kravitz, and noteworthy features including preferential parking for fuel-efficient vehicles, bike racks, new sidewalks, a community conference room, food services, Greyhound Package Express, and a light maintenance building for Greyhound.

The Tennessee Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) also honored the MATA Airways Transit Center with a 2012 Design Merit Award for New Construction. AIA cited the facility as “a shared waiting room for multiple transit-oriented tenants. The design goal is to serve as a catalyst for future transit-oriented development. Retail, dining, and recreational tenants draw in the public.”

BAE Systems Opens New Facility

BAE Systems recently opened a new, 100,000-square-foot facility in Endicott, NY, which will serve as headquarters for the company’s HybriDrive Solutions business. The term refers to BAE’s green propulsion system for public transit vehicles, designed to manage vehicle power while reducing emissions and improving fuel economy.

In addition to HybriDrive Solutions, the facility houses all design and manufacturing of hybrid and vehicle power management systems. This high-tech center employs a workforce of 250 employees.


Sign Up for ‘Virtual Trade Mission’

APTA invites its members to participate March 5, from noon to 1:30 p.m. Eastern time, in a free “Virtual Trade Mission” to the Mexican states of Mexico and Puebla.

Mexico has a population of more than 112 million people, 74 percent of whom live in urban areas. The current presidential administration has announced the intention to build several suburban trains to connect major cities such as Guadalajara, Toluca, and Queretaro, and one route to connect tourist cities in the states of Yucatan and Quintana Roo. The plan also includes expanding the coverage of the suburban train in the Mexico City metropolitan area, which comprises several municipalities of the state of Mexico.

Most Mexican states are modernizing their transportation systems and replacing old units. In particular, the states of Mexico and Puebla are working on important public transit modernization projects, including development of several bus rapid transit routes. These projects will offer good opportunities for suppliers of passenger transportation products and services.

Alicia Herrera, senior commercial specialist, U.S. Commercial Service Mexico, is working with APTA International Programs to prepare the webinar program.

To register, click here.

Seeking Presenters for APTA’s Multimodal Workshop

APTA invites its members to submit abstracts to be considered for presentation at the 2013 APTA Multimodal Operations Planning Workshop, July 29-31 in San Francisco. The deadline is March 20.

This workshop is dedicated to promoting and advancing the work of North America’s professional public transportation planners and schedulers. It provides an information sharing opportunity to both established professionals and individuals new to the field.

Submit abstracts by to Kevin Dow. All abstract submissions will be acknowledged upon receipt. Questions about the conference or the submittal process may be addressed to Dow at (202) 496-4831.

Here is a list of topic areas where APTA plans to focus this year’s workshop, although other topics are welcome:

* Happy Days are Here Again? Planning for Economic Recovery
* Ridership Changes Based on Transit Benefits Changes and Other Factors
* Service Planning for Special Events, Natural Disasters, and Disruptions
* “Complete Streets”: Developing Relationships between Traffic Engineers and Transit
* Operations Scheduling
* Smart Transit Facilities Design
* Innovations in Vehicles, Service Planning, and Scheduling
* Agency Survival Guide: Keeping Knowledge when the Knowledge Keepers Leave
* New Technology Related to Transit Operations/Service
* Planning and Scheduling Waterborne Transit
* BRT and Other Techniques to Expedite Bus Services
* Balancing Capacity and Demand
* Incorporating Title VI into Modern Service Planning
* Serendipity in Service Planning and Operations

Current Trends, Best Practices Focus of Fare Collection, TransITech

Public transportation professionals can learn about the latest in information technology, traveler information, electronic payment systems, and other Intelligent Transportation Systems issues affecting public transportation at APTA’s Fare Collection Workshop and TransITech Conference, March 18-20 in Phoenix.

APTA holds the two related events concurrently to enable participants to attend sessions from either or both tracks for a single registration fee.

The Fare Collection Workshop specifically presents sessions on fare collection and enforcement, smartphone applications, equipment maintenance, fare structure concepts, money handling security, surveillance, and fare media standards. It also features a products and services showcase.

TransITech explores such topics as data policy guidelines, using data to support operations, asset management, sustainability, electronic payment systems, fraud, and cyber security.

These programs are designed specifically for transit and supplier/consultant personnel who are engaged in the design, procurement, and operation of fare collection methods, equipment, and technology; public transit information technology professionals; chief information officers, operations managers, and staff; software developers; and other public transit leaders.

For more information on the program and for registration details, click here.

Champion Racer to Speak at Bus Conference

Photo by Jim Haines

Dario Franchitti, four-time IZOD IndyCar Series champion and three-time Indianapolis 500 winner, will be the featured speaker at the Closing Session of the 2013 Bus & Paratransit Conference, May 5-8 in Indianapolis. His presentation will focus on the dedication, team building, performance, and excellence involved in the sport of motor racing—and lessons for public transit professionals.