Passenger Transport - August 12, 2013
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FTA’s McMillan Addresses Two APTA Workshops; National and State Issues Guide Agenda

BY KYLE BELL, APTA Program Manager-Policy, and JEFF HIOTT, APTA Senior Program Manager-Member Services

Preparing for and coping with extreme weather events such as last fall’s Hurricane Sandy are linked to sustainability efforts and service planning, FTA Deputy Administrator Therese McMillan said at the joint luncheon of the 2013 APTA Sustainability and Public Transportation and Multimodal Operations Planning workshops, July 28-31 in San Francisco.

“The facts of climate change are startling. Climate and weather disasters in 2012 cost the American economy more than $100 billion—$65 billion from Superstorm Sandy alone,” McMillan said.

She also noted that the biggest driver of climate change is carbon pollution and the transportation sector is the second largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, but now transportation “can be part of the solution.”

For example, public transportation agency and business members are introducing clean-vehicle fleets and planning for more efficient commutes, actions that McMillan said will help achieve the public transportation-related objectives in President Barack Obama’s recently released Climate Action Plan.

After McMillan spoke, APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy called the APTA member systems and businesses that achieved higher recognition to the stage to accept certificates for their progress in APTA’s Sustainability Commitment.

Energy efficiency and productivity were central topics of the workshop. Melaniphy referenced new recommendations from the Alliance Commission on National Energy Efficiency Policy, of which he is a member, citing transportation’s role in increasing America’s energy productivity. “Investing $79 billion in more productive transportation systems, including public transportation, would allow the United States to save $218 billion in energy costs by 2030, for a net savings of $139 billion,” he said.

More than 300 public transportation officials attended the co-located workshops, which offered panel presentations, technical tours, and peer exchange sessions focused on best practices and industry trends.

Sustainability Workshop
As the Sustainability and Public Transportation Workshop opened, Melaniphy said the program was designed with public transit leaders and business members in mind: “You’re the people who implement economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable practices at your systems and businesses. You’re the people who actually put theories into practice. And with your efforts, our industry will be one of the key players helping to lead North America into a sustainable 21st ­century.”

Kevin Desmond, general manager, King County Metro Transit, Seattle, and chair of APTA’s Sustainability Steering Committee, discussed the work of the Federal Partnership for Sustainable Communities, comprising DOT, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Environmental Protection Agency. “These agencies together are making dynamic, large-scale efforts to craft policies that reflect the big picture—that transportation goes hand in hand with housing, with the environment,” he said.

Grace Crunican, general manager, San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART), discussed her agency’s role in the region as population increases and personal vehicle trips are constrained, and addressed the agency’s ongoing state of good repair funding needs.

Edward Reiskin, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) director of transportation, talked about the success of an integrated multimodal transportation approach for San Francisco, an initiative his agency is leading by integrating parking, public transit, transportation planning, and taxi regulation in a combined approach to reduce congestion. BART and SFMTA served as hosts for the workshop.

Speakers from across California reinforced the value of planning for sustainable outcomes at the local, regional, and state levels. They also discussed the impact of legislation that established the carbon cap-and-trade system in the state, which requires municipalities to have a Sustainable Communities Strategy targeted at reducing greenhouse gas emissions through improved land use and transportation planning.

The workshop also focused on performance measurement and tools, a topic highlighted at a peer exchange session; climate change adaptation and resiliency, planning, design, and operations; business practices; and sustainable communities. The workshop’s final day opened with a discussion on energy management policy and practice and concluded with a lunch panel on the future of federal partnerships.

Multimodal Operations Planning Workshop
The 2013 Multimodal Operations Planning Workshop, co-hosted by SFMTA and the San Mateo County Transit District, featured a wide range of speakers who shared their experiences and lessons learned at ­public transit agencies of all sizes. New and veteran planners attended the workshop to share progress, challenges, and best practices.

Specific session topics included public transit planning for special events and natural disasters, incorporating Title VI in the service planning process, planning for facilities, updates on new and existing operations, balancing resources with demand, and expanding into new markets.

New this year was a display of ­public transit system maps submitted by attendees for review by other workshop attendees. The winner, the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority in San Jose, CA, received the “Steve Perry Award,” named for a late industry leader who was highly involved in multimodal issues and best practices for system ­mapmaking.

Workshop sponsors included HDR, URS, Parsons Brinckerhoff, ARCADIS U.S., ICF International, and BAE Systems HybriDrive propulsion systems.

Photos by Kevin Gonzales

APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy, far right, and Sustainability Committee Chair Kevin Desmond, third from left, join recipients of certificates recognizing their high level of achievement in sustainability initiatives as part of APTA’s Sustainability Commitment.

Jim Moore, outgoing chair of the APTA Multimodal Operations Planning Subcommittee, and service planner, Sound Transit, Seattle, addresses attendees of the Multimodal Operations Planning Workshop.

August Congressional Recess: Time to Connect

Now is the time for public transportation systems and businesses to reach out to their elected officials who are home for the traditional August break.

Congress adjourned in early August without coming to agreement on the appropriations bills that fund federal public transportation programs. Before leaving for more than a month, both the Senate and the House briefly considered Fiscal Year 2014 appropriations bills for federal ­transportation programs. In both cases, however, members interrupted their consideration before the bills could be completed.

As a result, Congress will probably be forced to enact a Continuing Resolution by Oct. 1 for most, if not all, FY 2014 appropriations bills. There will probably not be enough revenue to support federal public transit and highway spending at even current levels at the beginning of FY 2015, when MAP-21 expires, on Sept. 30, 2014. 

Vacationing members of Congress are sure to hear from their constituents about immigration, the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), and other issues. They should also hear from supporters of public transportation and infrastructure investment, and they should be invited to visit public transit agencies, ride buses and trains, and talk with riders about the value of public transportation to local communities and economic development.

It is important for public transit professionals to tell their elected officials that there is a problem with federal funding of public transportation. Here are a few talking points public transit members can share with their members of Congress:

* There will not be enough funding to cover the $53 billion worth of public transit and highway outlays in 2015.

* Federal public transportation funding levels have essentially remained flat since 2009. It’s time to invest in public transportation and infrastructure.

* Public transportation is a $57 billion a year industry that directly supports more than 400,000 jobs and indirectly supports an additional 1.9 million jobs.

* Public transit agencies will need to spend more on buses, trains, and other capital if they are to continue to provide high-quality public transportation to the people they serve—people who are also voters.

* Public transit systems know how to stretch the revenue they receive from the farebox, as well as from state, local, and federal sources.

In addition, business members should also invite their elected representatives to their facilities so members of Congress can see first-hand the impact of public transportation’s robust supply chain and the jobs it creates and sustains.


Grassroots advocacy at work. Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-IN), left, recently visited Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems LLC’s production facility in Huntington, IN. The facility—a major employer in Huntington for more than three decades—remanufactures commercial vehicle compressors, air dryers, valves, and brake shoes for public transit vehicles. At right is Chris Camp, Bendix operations manager-remanufacturing.

Agencies Keep an Eye Out for Security

Some large-city U.S. public transportation agencies are increasing security in the aftermath of the State Department closing diplomatic sites in the Middle East and North Africa because of concerns about a possible terrorist attack.

For example, the New York Police Department is enhancing its presence in public transportation hubs and religious sites, among other locations, and in San Francisco, police increased their patrols at public transit locations, landmarks, and embassies.

Ron Pavlik, chief of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s (WMATA) Metro Transit Police, sent a notice to employees calling for vigilance at all times. He stated, however, that neither WMATA nor any other U.S. public transit system had received a specific or credible threat.

Another component of the heightened security presence has come from the Transportation Security Administration’s Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR) squads, which has added rail stations to its purview.

In Minneapolis-St. Paul, Metro Transit has worked with VIPR teams on its light rail line that serves the ­Minnesota Vikings stadium, the Mall of America, and the airport. Amtrak police work with VIPR teams on random bag inspections during high-travel periods.

Submit a Recommendation for Slate of Officers, Directors

Your voice can still be heard! Although the nominations deadline has closed, there is still time to lend your knowledge of the many extremely well-qualified candidates for APTA ­officer and director positions to the APTA Nominating Committee. Endorsements and recommendations may be submitted until the committee meets on Aug. 14. The races are highly competitive and you have a voice in selecting tomorrow’s leaders. The process is simple; just click here to see a list of nominees and follow the easy directions. All submissions are confidential and go directly to the Nominating Committee as it assembles this year’s recommended slate.

APTA Members Attend White House Briefing

Several APTA members and senior staff participated in a recent White House briefing on how public transit systems can help strengthen public awareness of the connection between public transportation and health care, including developing advocacy and communications campaigns on buses and trains. Attending were, from left: first row, David Leininger, Dallas Area Rapid Transit; Catherine Oakar, Department of Health and Human Services; Nuria Fernandez, New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority; Charles Cohen, Palm Tran, West Palm Beach, FL; Bryna Helfer, DOT; Pam Boswell, APTA vice president-workforce development and educational services; Danielle Gray, White House; John Porcari, DOT; Keith Parker, Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority; and Eldridge Coles, Greater Richmond Transit Company; second row, Daniel Suvor, White House; Jesus Gomez, City of Gainesville Regional Transit; Nathaniel Ford, Jacksonville Transportation Authority; FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff; and Paul Jablonski, San Diego Metropolitan Transit System; and back row, Christopher Walton, Broward County Transportation Department, Pompano Beach, FL; Richard Ruddell, Fort Worth Transportation Authority; and Paul Taylor, Los Angeles Metro.

Public Transit Agencies Mark Anniversaries

Several public transportation agencies are celebrating notable anniversaries in 2013. Here are a few examples.

DART Marks 30th Anniversary
On Aug. 13, Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the vote that authorized its creation. On that day in 1983, residents in Dallas and 13 other cities elected to be a part of the new public transit agency and contribute one percent in sales tax to fund it; later, two of the original municipalities would drop out and another would opt in.

DART officially began operation in January 1984, when the voter-approved one-cent sales tax took effect. Service began with express buses from throughout the service area to downtown Dallas. Two rail operations began in 1996: the first 11.2 miles of the 20-mile light rail transit starter system, and the first 10 miles of Trinity Railway Express commuter rail.

Thirty years after the historic vote, DART operates the longest light rail system in the country. It is part of a multimodal network that also includes bus, commuter rail, paratransit, and high-occupancy vehicle lanes. More light rail extensions, including a connection to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and a modern streetcar line, will open in the coming years.

St. Louis Metro: 20 Years of Light Rail
In anticipation of the 20th ­birthday of MetroLink light rail on July 31, St. Louis Metro commemorated the milestone July 26 with ceremonies at Scott Avenue Transit Plaza at the Grand MetroLink Station in St. Louis. The event kicked off with the arrival of dignitaries, including Metro President and Chief Executive Officer John Nations, on a specially wrapped commemorative train.

The first 14 miles of MetroLink officially opened July 31, 1993, between North Hanley in North St. Louis County, MO, to 5th and Missouri in Illinois. The light rail system now has 37 stations and covers 46 miles, connecting citizens traveling between Lambert-St. Louis International Airport, Shrewsbury, MO, and downtown St. Louis, then as far east as Scott Air Force Base near Shiloh, IL.

Over the past 20 years, MetroLink has also served as a catalyst for economic development, with an estimated $2 billion in residential and commercial development projects already complete around the alignment and other plans for development underway.

10 Years of Service on L.A.’s Metro Gold Line
More than 100 elected officials, project stakeholders, and members of the community gathered July 26 at the Metro Gold Line Del Mar Station in ­Pasadena, CA, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of passenger service on the Metro Gold Line light rail line operated by Los ­Angeles Metro.

The initial segment of the Metro Gold Line opened July 26, 2003, with 13 stations between Union Station in Downtown Los Angeles and Pasadena. The Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority built the line, then turned it over to Metro to operate.

“The Gold Line’s arrival has caused a true renaissance in the city of Pasadena,” said Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard, ­citing nearly 2,300 new residential units, 750,000 square feet of newly constructed retail and commercial space, “as well as numerous other projects that either renovated or adaptively reused our historic buildings.”

The construction authority is currently at work on the Gold Line Foothill Extension, which will connect ­Pasadena to Montclair in two construction segments.

Sound Transit Celebrates 10 Years of Tacoma Link
Sound Transit in Seattle kicked off the 10-year anniversary of the beginning of service for Tacoma Link light rail Aug. 8 with a contest inviting riders to name their favorite destination along the line. The grand prize is a Tacoma Getaway package, including an overnight stay at a hotel, salon treatments, and restaurant gift cards.

Service on the 1.6-mile light rail line from the Tacoma Dome Station to the Theatre District began Aug. 22, 2003. During that time, the line has provided more than nine million rides.

“Since service started in 2003, Tacoma Link has become an integral part of our transportation system and community fabric,” said Sound Transit Boardmember and Tacoma Mayor ­Marilyn Strickland. “On an average work day, 3,600 people ride Tacoma Link to numerous destinations along the six-station route. The city of Tacoma is pleased to be working with Sound Transit to bring this transit service to more citizens while planning efforts to expand this service to more residents and visitors.”

Celebration activities on Aug. 22 will include commemorative give-aways at all Tacoma Link stations and the Farmers Market, and a special appearance by Zap Gridlock, Sound Transit’s traffic-fighting superhero.

HDR Acquires Sharon Greene + Associates

HDR Engineering Inc., based in Omaha, has acquired the business and assets of Sharon Greene + Associates (SGA), a firm specializing in transportation economics and financial analysis with offices in California and Denver.

HDR-Sharon Greene + Associates will operate as a strategic consulting organization, offering financial planning, project finance, and public-private partnership advisory services. Sharon Greene, principal of the firm, will remain in charge of the organization.

“Sharon Greene + Associates has a stellar reputation as a firm trusted by public-sector agencies, with a deep understanding of funding and financing issues that are critical to project implementation,” said Eric Keen, president, HDR Engineering. “Its unique skill set is applicable to a wide variety of fields where HDR is an industry leader, and we are excited about the services and expertise we can offer to our mutual clients.”

Greene said: “Our staff at SGA is excited about HDR’s ability to deepen and broaden our relationships with existing clients, and build relationships with new ones. It was critical for us to join a company that shares our values, and we believe that HDR’s extraordinary commitment to both client services and staff development mirrors our own.”

Furnanz New President of Stacy and Witbeck

Stacy and Witbeck Inc., Alameda, CA, has named George Furnanz as its new company president.

Furnanz her worked for the company for 26 years, serving most recently as chief operating officer. He will take over the responsibilities of company president from John Bollier, the former president and chief executive officer, who will continue to serve in the latter post.

Gnadt Is Champaign-Urbana’s Next Managing Director

The Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District (CUMTD) Board of Trustees, Urbana, IL, has named Karl Gnadt to become the agency’s next managing director on July 1, 2014, following the announced retirement of longtime General Manager Bill Volk. Effective immediately, Gnadt assumes the title of managing director designate and continues as director of market development.

Gnadt has been CUMTD’s director of market development since 1995. Before coming to Champaign-Urbana, he was mass transit director with Danville (IL) Mass Transit beginning in 1991.He is a member of the Leadership APTA Class of 2013 and the APTA Information Technology Committee.

“I'm very excited to be working with such a hard-working, dedicated group of people,” Gnadt said. “CUMTD has been built on the backs of their commitment and sweat. And we’ve got great places still to go.”

When Volk joined CUMTD in 1974, the agency had 23 buses, about 50 employees, and annual ridership of 708,272. It now employs 328, operates 102 buses, and provides more than 12 million rides annually.

Daniel Is New Executive Director in St. Cloud, MN

The St. Cloud Metropolitan Transit Commission, St. Cloud, MN, has named Ryan I. Daniel, World Safety Association Certified Safety Specialist, as its new executive director, effective Aug. 19.

He succeeds David Tripp, who retired from Metro Bus in April after 33 years with the organization.

Daniel comes to St. Cloud from the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, where he was manager of bus service. He has worked in public transit as a bus operator and training manager for more than 10 years, including tenures with MTA New York City Transit and the Central Ohio Transit Authority in Columbus. He also has extensive DOT training in public transit safety and security.


APTA Seeks Help with Standards Effort

As part of writing standards for Electronically Controlled Pneumatic (ECP) brake systems for rail passenger trains, APTA is looking for a contractor to perform a Failure Modes Effects and Criticality Analysis for these systems.

APTA is undertaking this effort in cooperation with FRA and the APTA Passenger Rail Equipment Safety Standards Committee.

For more information or to apply, contact Martin P. Schroeder, P.E.


Meet Margarita Gagliardi!

Margarita Gagliardi
Vice President, Transit Planning
Urban Engineers of New York, P.C.
Member, APTA Policy and Planning Committee, High-Speed Rail & Intercity Passenger Rail Committee

How many people do you employ at your business?
Urban Engineers Inc. is a full-service planning, engineering, and construction management company that employs just shy of 500; we are happy to be employee-owned.

How long have you worked in the public transportation industry?
I have been in the public transportation industry for over 36 years (I’m going to stop counting soon) and find it most gratifying. There is no other career that would have afforded me the opportunity to contribute to the public good and improve our overall quality of life through progress in planning and mobility.

How long have you been an APTA member?
I have been associated with APTA since the mid- to late-1970s. My first exposure was while interning at Indiana University’s Institute for Urban Transportation. I remember clamoring for a view of Passenger Transport back when it was only in hard copy and was really the only source of industry news.

What drew you to a career in public transportation?
I knew when I was 14 years old that I wanted to pursue a career in our industry. My ­family immigrated from Cuba in 1962, and we were transit-dependent for many years. Metro-Dade [County, FL] did not provide school bus service, so my one-way trip to high school went something like this: I would ride the number 14 bus down 27th Avenue to Coral Way, where I would then transfer to the number 4 bus to Douglas Road. I would then walk about a half mile to the Coral Gables bus ­system’s pulse point to take a third bus to school. This took about 1.5 hours, each way, every day, on 1950-1960-era buses. I figured that there had to be a better way, and I wanted to be part of the solution(s).

What have you found to be the most valuable APTA benefit or resource? Please explain why or how this has helped.
There are three aspects that I believe are very helpful not just to me, but to the industry as a whole.

First is the advocacy that APTA provides on the Hill with DOT, OMB, the White House, and so on. This unwavering and consistent support for its members and our priorities has been essential to the ongoing dialogue on funding processes and procedures and with representation on key federal positions.

The second is the networking opportunities it offers. Whether at conferences, committee meetings, or other venues, APTA provides the means for meaningful interaction with colleagues and vendors, as well as learning industry trends.

And last, but very near and dear to me, is the APTF scholarship program and APTA’s commitment to supporting our future industry leaders. I cannot overstate how important this is for all of us, and I am particularly gratified to have been a member of the group that successfully established the George M. Smerk Scholarship.

What do you like most about your job?
I genuinely enjoy just about everything associated with my work. I don’t refer to it as a “job” anymore, as what I do is truly a lifelong passion. This, too, has evolved over time and, at this point in my career, there are two particular aspects that I enjoy the most.

The first is mentoring and staff development. This goes back to the APTF scholarship program. I just believe that each of us has the responsibility to nurture and prepare our industry’s future leaders. Much of what is important to success is not learned in a book; therefore, mentoring, technology sharing, and helping newcomers craft a path forward for their career development is an avocation, if you will.

Second, after many years in our business, I believe I am in a good position to share “lessons learned” and contribute to our industry’s ongoing progress. My position affords me with the opportunity to do this on a national scale. I hope I have made a difference and will continue to do so.

What is unique about your business—what would readers be surprised to learn?
I have been with Urban Engineers for just shy of one year now. The one thing that I find absolutely extraordinary is Urban’s commitment to its staff. We all hear the talk about staff being our most valuable assets, et cetera, but Urban’s commitment to its people, how incredibly we are valued and recognized, and the very palpable positive work environment in our offices are absolutely wonderful and make coming to work every day even more of a pleasure.

Make sure you see Margarita Gagliardi's video, now that you've read this!


Meet James Wright!

James Wright
Office Assistant
Corporate Affairs Department

What are the top job elements you focus on the most (your primary responsibilities)?

My primary job responsibility is to keep the APTA mailroom and print shop running smoothly and ­providing excellent customer service. This includes a wide range of daily and other regular tasks.

Among other things, I receive, sort, and distribute mail for APTA employees; track incoming and outgoing mail as well as UPS and FedEx deliveries; maintain postage records and restock the postage meter; generate computerized address labels, and prepare materials for mailings. I also process incoming checks and provide other services to the Finance and Administration Department; assign purchase order numbers; order office supplies; and set up conference rooms for internal and external meetings, including computers and audiovisual equipment. This includes the monthly all-staff meetings where APTA staff share comments and information.

Do you have direct ­contact with APTA members? If so, please talk about recent times you’ve helped out a member.

I do not have direct contact with our members. However, one of my responsibilities is covering the reception desk as needed. In that capacity, I have come in contact with a few APTA members. I also route incoming calls from members to the correct person.

What initiatives, projects, or programs have you worked on at APTA that you have taken particular pride in completing?

I take pride in doing every project to the best of my ability; these jobs could include preparing meetings materials for mailings or delivery to meeting sites, sending packages, and making copies. My responsibilities in the mailroom help APTA’s meetings and conferences run smoothly and successfully.

I coordinate shipping for APTA meetings both nationwide and internationally. When preparing for an APTA meeting, I will pack up material and ship it, tracking deliveries to make sure the packages arrive in a timely fashion. I take care of all printing requests regarding documents for release at meetings.

I took over preparations for the 2013 Legislative Conference in Washington because the employee who made the original arrangements had a family emergency. I followed up with room assignments and setups, meal service, and other components of the meeting planning process.

How did you “land” at APTA? How long have you worked here?

I came to APTA five years ago when my wife came across the job opportunity. I thought it was a good fit for me and applied for the job. I previously worked at law firms and a food association with a total of 27 years of mailroom experience.

Could you tell us something about yourself that might surprise us?

People may not know that I am also a Baptist minister at a church in Landover, MD. I attended the Washington Baptist Seminary in Washington, DC, graduating in 2006 with a diploma in theology. Before I became a minister, I served as an ordained deacon.

I have been happily married to my wife, Lisa, for 20 years this year and we have 15-year-old twin sons, James III and Jordan.

I enjoy dressing well. My father was a good dresser. When I was younger, I used to like going out a lot, but at the seminary I was required to wear a suit each day. We were told that preachers must look their best at all times. I traveled a lot for a ­previous job, so I started collecting suits. I have probably 20 suits.

I love good food. I enjoy eating well and going to nice restaurants.

Make sure you see James Wright's video, now that you've read this!


Take Public Transit to Summer Fun

Communities across the U.S. are offering special events for summer vacationers—and public transportation is providing direct connections to the action. Above: The Riverside Transit Agency, Riverside, CA, is providing expanded seasonal service to the beach on CommuterLink Route 202 through Sept. 2.


What a Depleted Highway Trust Fund Means for States


Last week Congress was warned of what might happen if the federal accounts that pay for transportation become depleted, as they’re forecast to do in fiscal year 2015. The scenario, outlined by Polly Trottenberg, the undersecretary for policy at the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), prompted plenty of questions from members of Congress. But it’s state transportation officials who should be worried.

By now, the fiscal challenges facing the Highway Trust Fund, which receives federal gas tax revenue and then distributes it to states for infrastructure projects, are well known: Americans are driving less, vehicles are becoming more fuel efficient, and the gas tax hasn’t been increased in 20 years. If the trust fund experiences a cash shortfall, the DOT will be forced to start taking steps to manage whatever cash it has left. ­Trottenberg gave Congress a detailed look at what exactly that might mean for states—and the situation isn’t pretty.

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) sends funds to states through six formula programs, but the money isn’t provided in advance. Instead, state departments of transportation enter agreements with FHWA, award contracts to construction companies, and then rely on getting payments from the feds in order to make payments to the contractors.

Some states bill the feds daily; others bill them weekly. But if the trust fund gets too depleted, states will start getting reimbursed less and less frequently, perhaps as rarely as twice a month, ­Trottenberg warned. Even worse for states: If the situation gets bad enough, the feds might only be able to cover a portion of states’ reimbursement requests. If that happens, states could be forced to pull back on some projects.

If such a scenario seems far-fetched, it shouldn’t. While the Highway Trust Fund has a relatively healthy history that dates back to 1956, it was in fiscal year 2008 that the DOT announced that it didn’t have enough cash in the account to cover states’ outstanding bills. At the time, it was agreed that FHWA would stop twice-daily payments and switch to weekly payments. States would get most of what they were owed on their scheduled payment dates, with a portion of the balance carried over to the following week. The system ensured a steady stream of funds coming to states, but it quickly built up the balances owed on the back end and relied on states to carry the difference.

Then-Transportation Secretary Mary Peters asked Congress for financial support, resulting in the transfer of $8 billion in general funds to the Highway Trust Fund. Ever since then, Congress has been transferring money to the fund regularly. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), since 2008, Congress has transferred a cumulative $41 billion from the general fund to the fund to avoid shortfalls, with another $12.6 billion set for 2014.

The Highway Trust Fund is made up of two accounts—one for highways and one for transit. As it stands, budget ­forecasts indicate that by the end of ­fiscal 2014 the highway account will have a cash balance of $4.6 ­billion. That’s ­problematic, because in a given month the feds might reimburse states more than $5 billion. The transit account faces a similar shortfall as the highway account: It will end the year with a $300 million balance, but some months, it pays out as much as $1 billion.

“While the timing of the forecasts is subject to change, there is little doubt that another funding shortfall will soon be upon us,” Trottenberg testified.

Congress has options to prevent the situation from becoming dire. It can transfer another $15 billion into the trust fund and authorize increasing large transfers in subsequent years. It can raise the gas tax by 10 cents per gallon. It can eliminate the $51 billion in highway and transit spending authorized for 2015. Or it can implement a combination of transfers, tax hikes, and cuts.

After the 2008 scare, new standards were put in place to give states greater warning when the account’s balances drop below certain thresholds. But it’s not necessarily a given that Congress will act in a timely manner to prevent states from getting stiffed. After all, it’s shown a willingness to play chicken with transportation issues before. Earlier this year, fliers experienced delays due to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) furloughs attributed to sequestration. In 2011, ­Congress failed to extend the FAA’s authority, forcing the agency to tell contractors to stop doing work at dozens of airports. And that same year, there was concern that congressional inaction would cause the gas tax to lapse, which could have resulted in lost revenue of $100 million per day.

Michigan Transportation Secretary Kirk Steudle says that if the feds start holding back on payments, it could be an especially big problem for states that have their own cash flow problems. But even more troubling than delays, he says, is the possibility that states will never fully get repaid.

Deb Miller, who served as ­secretary of the Kansas Department of Transportation in 2008, says the situation back then caused a lot of fear and uncertainty. She says her state conducted analyses and determined it could handle a slowdown in reimbursements for a few months before it would struggle to pay its own bills without the feds help. Of course, Congress ultimately bailed out the fund before real problems materialized.

Today, Miller says, states are perpetually planning for the worst. “[There] is endless uncertainty,” she says. “Absent a permanent fix, we’re just not going to get out of this situation.”

It’s not entirely clear how states might respond to the current situation. Kim Cawley, a CBO analyst, testified that there are a few possibilities. They might be willing to simply wait longer for their reimbursements; they might slow down on projects to avoid overextending themselves; or they might actually speed up construction in an effort to get reimbursed ahead of other states and before the money runs out.

This article is reprinted with permission from Governing magazine.


Who’s Doing What in the Industry

Paula Hammond, Anna Xiaohua Wang, Ann Barr Kovara
NEW YORK, NY—Parsons ­Brinckerhoff (PB) announced the following appointments:

Paula Hammond, Washington State secretary of transportation from 2007-2013, has been named senior vice president and national transportation market leader in PB’s Seattle office. She joins PB after a 34-year career with Washington State DOT.

Anna Xiaohua Wang has joined PB’s New York City office as a principal technical specialist. She has more than 17 years of experience in mechanical engineering and fire safety engineering, previously working as a project manager in the fire life safety and simulation group of a New York consulting firm.

Ann Barr Kovara is a senior supervising architect in the firm’s Los Angeles office. A former cultural heritage commissioner and planning commissioner for the city of South Pasadena, she has been an architect and project/construction manager for more than 30 years.

Anthony Lee
LITTLE FALLS, NJ—Anthony Lee, AICP, has joined SYSTRA as planning and environmental manager.

Lee is a professional certified planner with more than 20 years of experience as a client manager, environmental planning group leader, and project manager. His professional experience includes serving as an environmental protection specialist for FTA.

Koorosh Olyai
DALLAS, TX—Koorosh Olyai has joined Stantec as a senior principal in its Dallas transportation practice.

Olyai has more than 30 years of industry management experience in planning, design, construction, operation, and systems maintenance. Most recently he was assistant vice president of mobility programs for Dallas Area Rapid Transit.

Also, DOT named him chair and convener of the International Organization for Standardization/Technical Committee 204-Intelligent Transport Systems Working Group for Public Transportation and Emergency Management.

Sam Mansour
SANTA ANA, CA—TranSystems announced the appointment of Sam Mansour, P.E., as senior vice president and client manager for the company’s Passenger and Freight Rail practice areas.

Mansour has 29 years of experience providing design, construction, and project management services on commuter, public transit, freight railroad, grade separations, and other major infrastructure projects, as well as corridor assessment and feasibility studies.

Susan Bisno Massel
CHICAGO, IL—The Regional Transportation Authority announced the ­hiring of Susan Bisno Massel as director of communications and public affairs.

Massel served the city of Chicago for the past six years, most recently serving as director of public affairs for the ­Chicago Department of Buildings. Earlier, she worked in the cable communications industry for more than a decade.

Amanda Moreno Cross
DALLAS, TX—Amanda Moreno Cross has been appointed to the Dallas Area Rapid Transit Board of Directors.

Cross is the owner of several Dallas businesses including real estate company 2 Equinas at Bishop Arts, consulting firm C&K Capital, and commercial investment company VA Capital.

Scott Somers, Trinity Donovan, Jim McDonald, Shana Ellis, Dennis Kavanaugh
PHOENIX, AZ—The Valley Metro and Valley Metro Rail transit boards have elected new officers for the Fiscal Year 2013-14 term. Valley Metro is the regional public transportation authority, while Valley Metro Rail operates, maintains, and expands the area’s light rail system.

Mesa Councilmember Scott Somers chairs the Valley Metro board. Vice chair is Chandler Councilmember Trinity Donovan and Avondale Councilmember Jim McDonald is treasurer.

Tempe Councilmember Shana Ellis chairs the Valley Metro Rail board, and Mesa Councilmember Dennis Kavanaugh is vice chair.

Tonya L. McCray
ALEXANDRIA, VA—Tonya L. McCray has joined the Alexandria Transit Company (ATC) as director of finance and administration.

McCray has more than 15 years of experience in the finance and accounting profession. She comes to ATC from the American Geophysical Union, where she was controller and assistant director of finance.

Christina Rhoads
CINCINNATI, OH—First Transit has named Christine Rhoads senior manager of employee engagement and retention.

Rhoads joined First Transit in 2008 and was most recently recruiting manager for First Transit and First Vehicle Services.

Charles Stark
LOS ANGELES, CA—AECOM has named Charles Stark its Southern ­California transit and rail market segment leader, based in Los Angeles.

Stark has more than 35 years of industry experience. During his 11 years with Los Angeles Metro, he served as executive officer for engineering and construction and deputy executive director for project management.

Karen Garcia
SALEM, OR—Karen Garcia has joined Salem-Keizer Transit as its security coordinator. Garcia spent 20 years in the U.S. Navy, ending in 2006. She worked with Salem Hospital and Oregon State Hospital before coming to the agency.

Elaine Times, Gerardo Castillo, Ken Cartwright, Donna Simmons
AUSTIN, TX—The Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Capital Metro) announced the following promotions.

Elaine Times, an employee since 1986, has been named deputy chief executive officer, overseeing rail, bus, and paratransit operations and the planning, administration, risk management, and information technology departments. Prior to this position, she was executive vice president and chief operating officer.

Gerardo Castillo has been named senior vice president and chief of staff. Castillo, who joined Capital Metro in 2007, formerly was chief of staff to the president/chief executive officer.

Ken Cartwright, formerly strategic project management officer, is now vice president of engineering and construction. He joined the agency in 2007.

Donna Simmons has been named vice president of administration and risk management compliance officer. Most recently, she was director of human resources. She has been with the agency since 1991.

Rick J. Volk
DENVER, CO—CH2M HILL announced the appointment of Rick J. Volk, Esq., P.E., as North America director for alternative project delivery in the firm’s Transportation Business Group. He is based in the Charlotte, NC, office.

Volk has worked in the transportation field for 30 years. Prior to joining CH2M HILL, he was chief operating officer and executive vice president for business development with United Infrastructure Group Inc. Earlier he was chief executive officer, president, and director of infrastructure services for VP3 LLC, SemMaterials L.P., and New Century Transportation LLC, and vice president for Koch Performance Roads Inc.

Craig C. Goodall
NEWBURGH, NY—H.W. ­Lochner announced the appointment of Craig C. Goodall, P.E., as vice president, based in Newburgh.

Goodall has 30 years of leadership experience in consulting for major ­public agencies, including the rebuilding of Lower Manhattan after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Prior to joining Lochner, he was vice president for David Evans and Associates in New York.

Rob Victor
WASHINGTON, DC—Rob Victor, P.E., has joined HDR as Transportation Business Group manager for Northern Virginia, Washington, DC, and ­Maryland, based in Washington and Vienna, VA.

Victor previously served AECOM as an associate vice president, business development manager, and senior project manager. He has 18 years of engineering industry experience, including project management roles on major projects.

Drew S. McCaskey
ALEXANDRIA, VA—Operation ­Lifesaver Inc. has named Drew S. ­McCaskey state coordinator for ­Delaware Operation Lifesaver. McCaskey is a marketing coordinator and web manager for DART First State and the Delaware Transit Corporation.

McCaskey has more than 30 years of contracting and engineering experience, including the design and construction of transportation systems. He has managed projects such as rail station design improvements and construction of rail electrification systems.