Passenger Transport - August 23, 2013
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NEWS HEADLINES

Foxx Welcomes UTA’s Draper TRAX Line

Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) were among the speakers at Aug. 16 opening ceremonies for the Utah Transit Authority’s (UTA) Draper TRAX light rail line. The 3.8-mile line between Salt Lake City and the suburb of Draper entered regular service two days later.

The opening of this line marks the completion of UTA’s FrontLines 2015 project—both ahead of schedule and well under budget. The project, one of the largest public works efforts in Utah history, connects more than two million people along 70 miles of rail on the Wasatch Front; it also included three other TRAX lines—Mid-Jordan, West Valley City, and Airport—and FrontRunner commuter rail connecting downtown Salt Lake City with Provo.

“This is a great day,” said UTA General Manager Michael Allegra. “We have finished one of the nation’s largest transit development programs two years ahead of schedule and more than $300 million under budget.  This accomplishment is due to the great partnerships between UTA and the community. Our community is a model in this country for the things that we do—and we do them together.”

“What you’ve done here is an example to the country of what transit can do to transform a community,” Foxx said. He emphasized that the new line will help shorten commutes and preserve one of the public’s most valuable resources: time. 

Hatch said of the Draper line: “We have a great state, and this is making it better.”

FTA provided $116 million for the Draper extension through its New Starts Capital Investment Grant Program. In addition to the new track, the project included three new stations with park-and-ride facilities.

 

 

Photos courtesy of Utah Transit Authority

UTA General Manager Michael Allegra speaks at opening-day ceremonies for the TRAX Draper Line.

Children attending the event had an opportunity to decorate commemorative T-shirts. 

APTA’s Lawsuit Halts Frivolous Claims Against Both Public Transit Agencies and Businesses

ArrivalStar S.A., a company based in Luxembourg, will no longer bring frivolous patent infringement claims against APTA public and private sector members because the company and APTA have settled a lawsuit brought by APTA on behalf of its members.

“I am pleased to announce that the lawsuit brought by APTA against ArrivalStar has been resolved,” said APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy. “ArrivalStar has agreed not to make any future patent infringement claims against any of APTA’s public transportation agency members or any vendors providing goods and services to APTA public transportation agency members.”

On June 25, APTA sued ArrivalStar in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, on behalf of its more than 1,500 members. The lawsuit stated that ArrivalStar’s patents related to arrival and status messaging systems for the transportation systems were invalid and unenforceable. In addition, APTA’s lawsuit asserted that the 11th amendment prohibits state and regional entities from being subject to such suits.

Previously, at least 11 public transit systems had been subject to frivolous lawsuits by ArrivalStar and had decided to settle rather than undertake expensive and time-consuming litigation, which would have cost millions of dollars.

“This is a good day for the public transportation industry and now public transportation agencies and businesses can move forward with innovative technology without threat of baseless litigation,” Melaniphy said. “This is an excellent example of how APTA, at every opportunity, stands up for our members and their interests.”

Over the past three years, ArrivalStar and its affiliate, Melvino Technologies Limited, an offshore firm in the British Virgin Islands, filed claims stating that they own or are the exclusive licensee of patents relating to arrival and status messaging systems for the transportation industry. ArrivalStar made these claims, yet it appears that the firm never did research or developed technology or products related to the patents.

KCATA Opens Transit Center in Kansas City, KS

The Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (KCATA) joined the Unified Government of Kansas City, KS/Wyandotte County earlier this month to open the Downtown KCK MetroCenter at 7th & Minnesota Avenue.

“More and more people are figuring out that transit is an excellent way to save money and go green,” said KCATA General Manager Mark Huffer. “We are excited to partner with the Unified Government to bring better facilities and a better passenger experience to our transit customers in Kansas City, KS.”

Along with Huffer, speakers at the opening event included Mayor Mark Holland, former Mayor Joe Reardon, FTA Region 7 Administrator Mokhtee Ahmad, KCK Chamber of Commerce President/Chief Executive Officer Cindy Cash, Police Chief Rick Armstrong, and Wyandotte Nation Chief Billy Friend.

KCATA constructed the Downtown KCK MetroCenter as part of a regional project funded with a $50 million federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant. Improvements along the system’s 101 Minnesota/State Avenue route—which begins at the 10th & Main MetroCenter in downtown Kansas City, MO, travels through downtown Kansas City, KS, and ends at Village West—also will include another new facility opening Sept. 29.

The $2.3 million facility provides a convenient off-street boarding area for eight routes. It is the only location that will serve buses from three area public transit systems: KCATA, Unified Government Transit, and The JO, Johnson County, KS.

Improved amenities at the site include real-time bus arrival information for KCATA’s Metro routes, new audio-enabled traffic signals at the 7th & Minnesota intersection, Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant curb ramps, extended streetscape west of Minnesota, and pedestrian crosswalks.

The Downtown KCK MetroCenter also features a 180-foot stone wall art installation that displays symbols representing the 12 clans of the Wyandotte Nation, along with a 13th symbol that represents the nation as a whole.

KCATA General Manager Mark Huffer was among the speakers at dedication ceremonies for the Downtown KCK MetroCenter in Kansas City, KS.

Governor Cuts Ribbon at Metro-North Station in West Haven, CT

MTA Metro-North Railroad opened the first new station on the New Haven Line since 2011 on Aug. 19 in West Haven, CT. Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy joined Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Connecticut DOT (ConnDOT) Deputy Commissioner Anna M. Barry, and other state, railroad, and local officials for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the grand opening of the new commuter rail station.

Metro-North operates the New Haven Line under contract to ConnDOT.

The West Haven Station is located midway between the Milford and New Haven stations. In the past, local residents who wanted to ride Metro-North had to travel to one of those stations, or further west on the New Haven Line, to access commuter rail service.

“This new station fills in a nine-mile gap between the New Haven and Milford stations, making it very attractive to area residents as well as people coming from far away in search of parking,” said Metro-North President Howard Permut. “This gorgeous, spacious, contemporary station makes Metro-North a tempting alternative to driving on already clogged I-95, and we expect more and more people will make the switch.”

The governor said: “The New Haven Line is vital to facilitating commerce and ensuring residents have a real alternative to driving to work every day. We want to continue making smart, targeted investments to encourage even more residents to take the train while also easing gridlock on our already congested highways and reducing carbon emissions and fuel consumption associated with single-occupant vehicle trips.”

The $103 million West Haven Station includes two 1,100-foot platforms that can accommodate 12-car trains, an Americans with Disabilities-compliant station building with restrooms, self-pay parking and ticket machines, bicycle, racks and 650 new parking spaces. The project also included upgrades to a five-mile section of the New Haven Line track, overhead catenary power lines, and signals.

 

Speakers at the opening of Metro-North's West Haven Station, from left: West Haven resident and station supporter Mike Mercuriano, Metro-North President Howard Permut, MTA Chairman & CEO Tom Prendergast, West Haven Mayor John Picard, Connecticut Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, state Rep. Lou Esposito, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, state Rep. Steve Dargan, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, state Representative Paul Davis, and ConnDOT Deputy Commissioner Anna Barry.

 

Arlington, TX, Launches First Bus Service

The city of Arlington, TX, officially launched its new commuter bus service—Metro ArlingtonXpress, or MAX—on Aug. 19, connecting the city’s 374,000 residents to the rest of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) and the Fort Worth Transportation Authority (The T) are partnering with the city to provide this service.

“As of 5:35 Monday morning, Arlington was no longer the largest city in the nation without public transportation,” said Arlington Mayor Robert Cluck. “This is an important step in connecting Arlington with the Metroplex.” The introduction of MAX means that the city’s residents can now connect seamlessly to a regional transit grid, a goal that has eluded the city for decades.

The MAX route travels between the University of Texas at Arlington, in the downtown area, and the Trinity Railway Express CentrePort/DFW Airport Station, with two buses owned by DART. The two-year pilot project will cost $700,000 per year; partners including the city of Arlington, UT Arlington, and Arlington Chamber of Commerce are covering the first year’s cost, while an FTA grant will pay for the second year.

The MAX bus pulls up at the Trinity Railway Express (TRE) CentrePort/DFW Airport Station, with a TRE commuter train in the background.

 

Streetcars Returning Soon to DC

In anticipation of the return of streetcars to the nation’s capital, the District DOT (DDOT) recently held a community open house at the DC Streetcar Testing and Commissioning Site in Southeast Washington. About 200 guests attended the event, where they could view and touch the three new vehicles manufactured by the Inekon Group in the Czech Republic. Each 66-foot-long modern streetcar can carry up to 156 passengers, uses 750 volts direct current, and can operate at speeds up to 30 mph. DDOT will own and manage the system and RATP Dev McDonald Transit, under the leadership of General Manager Louis Brusati and his team, will operate and maintain it.

Litchfield Named Chapel Hill Transit Director

Brian Litchfield has been named director of Chapel Hill Transit, Chapel Hill, NC, on a permanent basis. He had served as interim director for the past 10 months.

Litchfield joined Chapel Hill Transit as assistant director in May 2008, after serving as chief development officer for the Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority in Des Moines, IA. Earlier, he was a community development planner at the Siouxland Interstate Metropolitan Planning Council in Sioux City, IA, managing grant programs for the Sioux City Transit System, Siouxland Regional Transit System, and the Metropolitan Planning Organization.

Bartlett Dies; Engineering Expert

Simon Bartlett, 49, a public transit system engineering expert with CH2M HILL, died June 28 from an accidental fall.

Working out of the firm’s New Jersey office, Bartlett served as East Coast systems engineering technology leader for CH2M HILL. During his 26-year career, he focused on the application of system safety, security, and system assurance on transit projects and programs in the United Kingdom, Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and North America.

Bartlett’s many clients included MTA New York City Transit and Long Island Rail Road, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, New Jersey Transit, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, FRA, FTA, Qatar Rail, Etihad Rail, and the Kowloon and Conton Railway Corporation in Hong Kong.

CH2M HILL has setup an online blog for friends and colleagues to share their remembrances with the Bartlett family.

APTA NEWS

APTF to Honor Scholarship Recipients at Reception, Award Ceremony

The American Public Transportation Foundation (APTF), the charitable affiliate of APTA, will honor 18 scholarship recipients at its 2013 Reception, 6-7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 30, during the Annual Meeting in Chicago. The award presentation will be held during the Opening General Session Monday morning.

This year, APTF will award its newest named scholarship, the Business Member Board of Governors (BMBG)/Janie Wulkan Memorial Scholarship, for the first time to a female applicant committed to a career in public transportation. BMBG and Alan Wulkan, senior vice president HDR/InfraConsult, and member of the APTA Executive Committee and BMBG, each contributed $50,000 to co-establish the scholarship, named in honor of Wulkan’s late wife.

The cost is $100 per person. To purchase tickets, visit the website and click on “Get Your Tickets Here” under APTF Reception 2013. Proceeds benefit the APTF scholarship fund and are tax deductible to the legal extent allowable.

Founded in 1988, APTF has as its mission to increase and retain the number of young professionals pursuing careers in public transportation. It has awarded more than 125 scholarships to date.

For more information, contact Pamela Boswell.

COMMENTARY

I Love Transit 2013: An Interview with Brent Toderian

Why do you love transit?
Professionally, I love transit because of the effect it has on the shape and success of cities. It supports, and is supported by, well-designed cities, with density and a rich mixing of uses. Frankly, city-regions can’t work effectively and successfully without effective and successful transit. Transit saves cities a massive amount of space and money and is one of the most effective investments in the future with a well-established return on investment. It contributes to more healthy, sustainable, nimble, and economically successful places.

Personally, being a frequent transit user makes me healthier, more socially connected, more connected with my city, and happier. It improves my quality of life and saves me a ton of money. Frankly, what’s not to love?

What does transit mean to you?
To me, a well-designed and successful transit system equals freedom and flexibility. The car used to be associated with freedom, but not anymore. High gas prices that will just keep going up, traffic congestion, struggles to find parking—increasingly, the car just means a hassle. However, I can travel to anywhere I need to in my city on transit, easily and inexpensively. That’s freedom.

Transit also means a successful city. It’s very hard to think of a city that I consider successful that doesn’t have a great transit system.

What are your earliest memories of transit?
My earliest transit memories are from Montréal, where my mother’s side of the family lived, and where I spent many months of each year while growing up. I learned to take transit and love transit on Montréal’s Metro system. I still tend to compare every system I experience with it. I learned how to read visual cues and way-finding, line colour, and direction, everything about how to navigate a system first in Montréal. And it’s still one of my favorite transit systems and cities.

Do you have a favourite mode of transit?
Quite the opposite—my favourite mode of transit is the one that does the best job given its contexts and goals. Rapid bus, streetcars, LRT, subways—it’s all about the best tool for the job in a complex and sophisticated transit system. There’s always the urbanist’s romance with streetcars and LRT, and I do love them—they have the advantages of fixed transit, while still being able to visually experience the city through the windows. I love riding them! But you can’t underestimate the cost-effectiveness and flexibility of buses, and the huge capacity potential of subways or SkyTrain, in the right places.
It’s dangerous to fall too much in love with one type or technology, especially when you’re planning a complex transit system. The right tool for the job is always my favourite in that moment, based on our transit planning goals.

Do you take transit now?
Our household went car-free in 2009, and we rarely used our car before that. Transit and walking are our primary ways of getting around—it helps that we deliberately chose a home that’s beside a SkyTrain station! For most of our daily needs, we can actually get to them by walking, which is our preference. With a compact, mixed-use neighbourhood, even transit isn’t necessarily needed every day, and that’s a very good thing. It’s what I call “the power of nearness.”

We use taxis when we need to (which I consider part of a multimodal transportation system) and are members of several car share companies. But that’s pretty rare. Our home’s “Transit Score” is 100 out of a possible 100, and our “Walk Score” is 98. The key really is all about where you decide to live, relative to how your life functions.

What excites you about transit in terms of city planning?
It’s all about how transit fits into a multimodal city with walking, biking, transit and, yes, the car. Different modes can even combine within trips to make the car unnecessary for much of the time. It’s key to always remember that every transit trip starts and ends with your feet, so every good transit city has to be a good walking city. Even our new bike share system will contribute to the ongoing transit challenge of “the last mile” between a destination and the nearby transit station.

To plan a transit city, it’s first and foremost about land-use, and about density, design, and mixing uses. The best transit and transportation plan is a great land-use plan, and if you get your land-use wrong, you’ll never support a successful transit city. Densities will be too low to support cost-effective, frequent, flexible transit, and everything will be too scattered and separated.

I love thinking about how to plan a transit city, what planners and designers call “transit oriented design” or TOD. But really it’s about planning a multimodal city—a city with many choices in how we get around, with fewer trips needed and shorter distances between things. It’s really first and foremost about a walking city. We’re humans, and we’re designed to walk. So transit just becomes an extension of walking.

Is transit a key part of our future?
Really, our city and region won’t be able to function effectively, and especially cost-effectively, without a smart, expanding transit system. The great news is that transit is not a real cost—it’s an investment in more efficient and cost-effective region-making, economic development, affordability, quality of life, urban health, sustainability, etc. It has an incredible return on investment, and it actually costs us money as a society to continue to underfund transit. With the population growth we’re projecting, planning anything but a multimodal, transit-friendly city and region is a recipe for gridlock, expensive waste, missed opportunities, and failure. It’s really the closest thing we have to a no-brainer when it comes to investments in public infrastructure.

Working across the world, I observe cities and regions that are far ahead of us in multimodal thinking. The cities and governments that get this right will succeed and prosper, and the others will slip further behind.

Anything else about transit?
There are many powerful reasons to support transit in our city and region, but on a personal level, I keep coming back to the fact that getting around my city by transit each day makes me happy. It improves my life, while at the same time improving our city and even the planet. I’ll say it again—what’s not to love?

Brent Toderian, former chief city planner for Vancouver, British Columbia, is an urbanism consultant and founding president of the Council for Canadian Urbanism. Reprinted with permission from “The Buzzer Blog,” from the website of TransLink, metropolitan Vancouver’s regional transportation authority.

PEOPLE ON THE MOVE

Who's Doing What in the Industry

Brennan C. Grayson
CINCINNATI, OH—Brennan C. Grayson, a partner with Kircher, Suetholz, & Grayson (KSG), is the newest member of the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority Board of Trustees.

Grayson regularly represents his clients in state and federal court, labor arbitration, and administrative proceedings.

Christian Roberts, Skender Nezaj
NEW YORK, NY—Parsons Brinckerhoff (PB) has announced the appointments of Christian Roberts as U.S. director of rail and transit asset management, based in Herndon, VA, and Skender Nezaj as a senior principal engineer in the firm’s Baltimore office.

Roberts has more than 20 years of experience in the transportation industry at both the national and international levels. Prior to joining PB, he established a similar practice in the United Kingdom with an international scope in the transport sector. He recently served as the principal expert representing the U.K. at the International Committee responsible for the creation of an International Standards Organization (ISO) standard for asset management (ISO:55001),which is scheduled to be published later this year.

Nezaj will manage rail vehicle and systems projects, including an on-call rolling stock engineering assignment for the Maryland Transit Administration. He has more than 26 years of rail transit experience, serving most recently as an operations manager at United Streetcar & Oregon Iron Works.

Ed McSpedon
LOS ANGELES, CA—Ed McSpedon, P.E., executive vice president of HNTB Corporation, has been named chief executive officer of the firm’s HNTB Advantage business unit, focused exclusively on design-build projects and programs. He is based in the firm’s Los Angeles office.

McSpedon, who has been with the firm since 1995, has three decades of experience in both the public and private sectors of the transportation industry. An executive-level engineer, he previously served as HNTB’s director of corporate development and has managed the design and construction of some the country’s largest public works programs.

Jeffrey P. Rosenstein
NEW YORK, NY—URS Corporation has named Jeffrey P. Rosenstein associate general counsel.

Rosenstein has more than 20 years of experience in construction law. Prior to joining URS, he was a partner with Troutman Sanders, an international law firm with offices throughout the United States and in China. In addition to construction issues, his practice focused on energy and energy-related projects. Earlier he was a partner at the law firms of Thelen Reid & Priest and Winston & Strawn.

Norris Harvey
ISELIN, NJ—Norris Harvey, P.E., has joined Hatch Mott MacDonald as a principal project manager. He will lead the Life-Safety & Security practice in the firm’s New York City office.
 Harvey is an international expert in the field of tunnel ventilation and fire/life safety and security. He has 19 years of experience in all phases of project delivery, from feasibility studies to construction support, including international road and public transit tunnel design and analysis.

Jason Dunn
CINCINNATI, OH—Jason Dunn, a member of the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority Board of Trustees, has been named to the Cincinnati Business Courier’s 2013 Forty Under 40 class. The program recognizes Greater Cincinnati’s next generation of young leaders and innovators.

Dunn is director of multicultural affairs and community development for the Cincinnati USA Convention & Visitors Bureau.

CLARIFICATION

A reporting error in the Aug. 12 issue of Passenger Transport misidentified the namesake of an award. The correct name is Steve Parry.