Passenger Transport - November 29, 2013
(Print All Articles)


Pennsylvania Governor Signs Bipartisan Transportation Bill

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett signed the state’s most comprehensive transportation legislation in decades on Nov. 25, shifting funding away from a flat 12-cent gas tax, which will be eliminated as of Jan. 1, to a new financing structure that involves uncapping the Oil Company Franchise Tax (a tax on oil companies based on the wholesale price of gas) in a millage adjustment and making other changes in vehicle and drivers’ license fees.

The bill, the result of a bipartisan effort, is projected to generate $2.3 billion a year for highways, bridges, and public transportation. By the plan’s fifth year, the state will invest between $480 million to $495 million annually in ­public transportation, among other transportation initiatives.

“We are extremely happy that our legislature took the important step to pass a multimodal, comprehensive transportation funding solution for Pennsylvania,” said Leeann MacWilliams, executive director, Pennsylvania Public Transportation Association (PPTA), adding that “mass transit and other modes are finally able to move forward and begin the work and improvements needed while maintaining a safe transportation system in Pennsylvania. Without action, the transportation network would continue to deteriorate and create a hardship for everyone no matter the mode of transportation they use.”

She said the bill will fund large infrastructure projects such as bridge replacements, technology investments, and job creation in public transportation systems throughout the state.

Joe Casey, general manager of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, said: “The investment that this bill provides over the coming decades will be nothing short of transformative for SEPTA’s aging system. Rehabilitating SEPTA’s essential infrastructure is an enormous responsibility that every SEPTA employee stands ready to undertake.”

Ellen McLean, interim chief executive officer of the Port Authority of ­Allegheny County, said the legislation will provide service stability for local employers, businesses, and 230,000 ­riders who rely on Port Authority’s bus and light rail system each day.

“Riders won’t worry every year about the possibility of losing the route that serves their neighborhood,” McLean said. “This has been a near-constant threat for several years and it’s tremendous progress to put that behind us. It’s time to move forward.”

Cities with Direct Rail-to-Airport Link See Boost in Hotel Revenue; GMs Say Transit Drives Travel Revenue

Public transit general managers say that the direct link between their agencies’ rail lines and hotels in their home city gives their community an economic competitive edge, thus confirming the results of a recent APTA report, A New Partnership: Rail Transit and Convention Growth, co-released with the U.S. Travel Association.

Hotels in these cities with direct rail access to an airport terminal realize nearly 11 percent more revenue per room than hotels in cities that don’t have such a link, an increase that translates to a potential $313 million per year.

The cities featured in the report are Chicago, IL; San Francisco, CA; Atlanta, GA; Minneapolis, MN; Portland, OR; and Washington, DC.

Forrest Claypool, president of the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), calls public transit “a cornerstone” of the city’s booming hotel industry, which he said is “on pace” to set occupancy and revenue records for 2013.

“Mayor Rahm Emanuel is committed to making the significant investments in the CTA system that allow us to provide reliable transportation that allows the growing number of visitors to Chicago—46 million last year alone—to travel the city efficiently and affordably,” ­Claypool added.

Keith Parker, general manager and chief executive officer of the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA), said the agency’s airport link has two main benefits: boosting the economy and strengthening the quality of life.

“MARTA’s connection to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, which is the world’s busiest, demonstrates the value of making smart public sector investments that maximize economic opportunities while also improving the quality of life for the communities we serve,” he said.

And in Minneapolis, on Metro Transit’s light rail Blue Line, the two airport terminals are among the busiest stations on the corridor, accounting for nearly 20 percent of the line’s total boardings.

“The local business and hospitality industries have underscored how important the Blue Line’s airport connection is to major commerce areas,” said Brian Lamb, general manager. “For travelers, this stress-free connection is a great introduction to what we have to offer in the Twin Cities.”

“BART is proud to celebrate 10 years of direct service to San Francisco International Airport,” said James Fang, BART’s longest serving board member, who also was the primary leader for the public transit agency to the airport.  “We have served nearly 31 million passengers since opening day. After stepping off their flight, locals, tourists, and business travelers can board our incredibly convenient train-to-plane connection and be in the center of San Francisco’s top financial, tourist, and convention destinations in just 30 minutes.”

APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy said that the study not only showed the importance of building more rail-to-airport connections, but also of investing in high-speed rail to serve growing travel markets.

“Development of higher performing intercity passenger rail corridors will be critical to America’s future,” he said. “There already are success stories all over the world. International visitors know how to use these systems. Destinations become stronger. Travel and tourism become still more robust.”

The report is available here.

SEPTA Marks Reopening of Bridgeport Viaduct

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) in Philadelphia marked the reopening of the 102-year-old
Bridgeport Viaduct at a ceremony Nov. 18 at the agency’s Norristown Transportation Center (NTC).

SEPTA closed the viaduct for four months while completing a $7.6 million bridge timber and tie replacement project on the 3,175-foot bridge that carries the Norristown High Speed Line (NHSL) over the Schuylkill River between Bridgeport and the Norristown facility. The renovation effort included replacement of all track ties, bridge timbers, track level walkway, and railing
system; waterproofing; and some structural repairs, including structural steel repairs to the NHSL station at NTC.

During the project, SEPTA operated shuttle buses in place of trains between NTC and Bridgeport Station. The agency thanked customers for their patience and support with a rider appreciation event during the morning commute.

SEPTA's Norristown High Speed Line travels over the newly reopened Bridgeport Viaduct on its way to the Norristown Transportation Center.

SFMTA Puts ‘Big Alma’ to Work on Subway Tunnel Boring

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority (SFMTA) introduced “Big Alma,” its newest tunnel boring machine (TBM), to service Nov. 18. The new machine joins its twin, “Mom Chung,” to construct the two Central Subway tunnels that will carry the Muni’s T Third Line underneath the SoMa, Union Square, and Chinatown neigh­borhoods when the new line opens.

“This is an exciting day for San Francisco: We are now building the city’s first new subway tunnels since the 1980s,” said SFMTA Board Chairman Tom Nolan. “With rapid transit on 4th Street and Stockton Street, through SoMa, Union Square and Chinatown, we’ll significantly speed up and improve transportation through some of our most congested areas.”

Each of the TBMs is 350 feet long and weighs 750 tons. The vehicles consist of a rotating cutter wheel (the cutter head), a cylindrical steel shell (the shield), and a 300-foot train of tunnel-building mechanisms (the trailing gear). The cutter head pumps out an environmentally safe foam to condition the ground as it cuts through the earth. Once loosened, spoils pass through holes in the cutter head and onto a large screw that carries them onto a series of conveyors out of the tunnel.

The TBMs will excavate and construct the 1.5-mile-long tunnels at an average pace of 40 feet per day, though their pace will vary based on ground conditions and other factors.

SFMTA named Big Alma in honor of “Big Alma” de Bretteville Spreckels, a 19th-century socialite and philanthropist who persuaded her first husband, sugar magnate Adolph B. Spreckels, to fund the California Palace of the Legion of Honor at Land’s End in San Francisco.

Mom Chung is currently tunneling underneath existing Muni Metro and San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) tunnels near Market Street. The highly complex engineering process includes injecting grout in the space above the new tunnels to stabilize existing BART tunnels and maintain their structural integrity and safety.

SFMTA’s newest tunnel boring machine, Big Alma, is at right, not yet fully out of the launch box. On the left is the tunnel being dug by the other machine, Mom Chung, currently 2,100 feet long.

Infrastructure Finance Bill Introduced in Senate

Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) introduced a proposal at the end of November to create an independent infrastructure financing authority (IFA) that would enable state and local governments to get low-interest federal loans and loan guarantees to help build infrastructure projects.

The proposal, known as the Building and Renewing Infrastructure for Development and Growth in Employment (BRIDGE) Act, would be seeded with $10 billion in federal funds to help state and local transportation authorities finance projects and “unlock billions of dollars in additional private investments at a time of very favorable interest rates,” Warner said.

Warner, chair of the Senate Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Surface Transportation, said the authority would fund a broad range of infrastructure projects, not only public transportation-related initiatives.

He said the IFA would operate independently from existing federal agencies, with its own chief executive officer and a seven-member board of directors. The chief executive officer and board would be required to have “proven expertise” in financial management and must be confirmed by a Senate vote.

In addition, the bill stipulates the following:

• Funds would be targeted to projects at least $50 million in size and deemed regionally or nationally significant;
• The authority would finance no more than 49 percent of a project’s total cost;
• Five percent of funding would be set aside for rural projects of $10 million; and
• Loan and loan guarantees would be subject to some fees, which sponsors say will allow the IFA to become self-sustaining.

For details, click here.

Sens. Mark Warner, at podium, and Roy Blunt (R-MO), third from left, announce the BRIDGE Act to help finance infrastructure projects. The bill is cosponsored by, from left, Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Chris Coons (D-DE), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and not pictured, Dean Heller (R-NV), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), and Mark Kirk (R-IL)

Photo credit: © Senator Mark Warner,



MARTA Opens Training Facility

The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) recently opened its new Travel Training Facility, designed to help customers with disabilities learn how to move beyond paratransit and use the train and fixed route bus networks. Cutting the ribbon, from left: MARTA Board Chairman Frederick L. Daniels Jr., FTA Region IV Administrator Dr. Yvette Taylor, MARTA General Manager/Chief Executive Officer Keith T. Parker, Chief Operating Officer Rich Krisak, and Elderly and Disabled Access Advisory Committee Chairman Robert Smith. The facility offers simulated railcars, bus stops, and fare vending machines to help customers practice critical transit-riding skills.


Reauthorization: Let’s Organize, Energize, and Authorize for Success!

BY PETER VARGA, Chief Executive Officer, The Rapid (Grand Rapids, MI), and APTA Chair

My primary focus as APTA chair is to lead our association toward a concrete proposal for the reauthorization of MAP-21 developed through consensus by the participation of various parts of our membership. Business members, transit systems, and other members must coalesce behind a mutually agreed-upon plan.

Our association is well-poised to accomplish this task. As a consequence of stabilizing our funding and improving on our governance model, we are now ideally positioned to lead a coordinated effort, spearheaded by the Authorization Task Force, which is preparing a proposal that will be reviewed by the Legislative Committee in December. Subsequently, the Board of Directors will vote on the reauthorization proposal, the product of many voices in APTA.

Now that APTA and the Authorization Task Force have listened to and heeded many voices, it’s time to speak and act with one voice.

All of us in the industry must come together behind a consensus plan so we are able to maximize our influence on Capitol Hill, in statehouses across the country, with city officials, and also with media, policy influencers, and citizens—our riders, our neighbors, and our friends. Our challenge on Capitol Hill is made doubly complex as partisan squabbles undermine a host of issues—even public transportation, which historically has been held up as a model of bipartisan collaboration.

To be successful, we must stay squarely focused on our goal to fully fund public transportation in the United States. Anything less jeopardizes our nation’s imperative to compete globally, erodes our economic recovery, and diminishes vital partnerships among the federal government, state authorities, and local officials.

APTA staff, in conjunction with the Marketing and Communications Committee, is finalizing a strategic plan for communicating the value of public transit to the American people and Congress. Our authorization campaign will include advertising, media relations, and social media, and we will work to activate grassroots advocates as well as our coalition partners at the national and local levels.

The Executive Committee started preparing for this effort during its very productive retreat in November. I am confident that APTA will have a great plan for reauthorization, an excellent communication process, and a solid ­strategy for achieving our objectives.

Organize, Energize, Authorize
When I decided to run for APTA chair, I knew that the reauthorization task was ahead; I am proud to help lead the effort to push our plan through Congress and ramp up support from our friends and customers. Our work in this regard has three parts.
As I said at the Annual Meeting in Chicago, we should organize ourselves to succeed, energize those who support us, and work to authorize the funding we require to prepare for America’s future.

One way to get quick traction nationally is to work with our allies. APTA has many friends (too many to name here), from advocates for businesses and older Americans to mayors of small and large cities to environmentalists. We can—and will—partner with them to advance our shared transportation issues.

But as the late Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill famously said, “All politics is local.” We will magnify the effectiveness of our national advocacy efforts when we also leverage state and local outreach. APTA’s government affairs staff and legislative consultants advise that positive outcomes at the state and local levels will help us get the results we so sorely need nationally.
I’m challenging all agency and business members to make an impact in their own backyard. I have asked the Executive Committee to lead this effort, and I ask you: What will you do today to help ensure that public transportation has a strong future?

New Demands; New Advocates
The country’s changing d­emographics are resulting in growing ridership. Increasingly, each generation we serve sees how transit makes their lives better. We need to find ways for them to channel their positive energy on our behalf.

Baby Boomers like me are demanding more opportunities to use public transit, especially as they move into more walkable, transit-oriented areas and drive fewer miles. Gen Xers are looking for public transportation choices as they look for cost-effective ways to commute. Millennials, the largest and youngest group, are delaying car ownership and flocking to public transit.

Millennials will make up 40 percent of the workforce by 2020. Young people ages 16 to 34 drove 23 percent fewer miles on average in 2009 than they did in 2001. More non-drivers in the workforce means more riders for public transit and increased demand for investments in public transportation and infrastructure to support bicycling, walking, and intercity rail.

We must be ready to meet—and maximize—this demand. In Grand Rapids, Millennials were energized in May 2011 to support a local property tax initiative for The Rapid. We won the election by 136 votes in a large turnout. The balance of victory came from a neighborhood heavily populated by Millennials.

I offer this brief anecdote because it underscores the power of engaging ­riders and allies. When we organize their commitment and energize their support, we will lead Congress to authorize the multi-year, multimodal funding we must have to meet the growing demand for public transit. America will not remain globally competitive without it because America’s Future Is Riding on Public Transportation!


There’s No Place Like Home; General Managers Who Provide Transit Service in Their Hometowns

BY SUSAN BERLIN, Senior Editor

All public transportation general managers need to demonstrate a commitment to the communities in which they work, but some have an additional link: They provide service in the city or town where they grew up. The following comments and reminiscences are from a few of these home-grown general managers. This is the second part of a two-part article. See the first part in the Nov. 18 issue of Passenger Transport.

Brian Lamb
General Manager
Metro Transit
Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN

Minneapolis native Brian Lamb has been involved with Metro Transit since he was 14 and rode buses to get to high school and recreational activities. In 1980, as a new graduate of the University of Minnesota who worked for a member of the Minneapolis City Council, he accepted a temporary six-month assignment with the agency then known as the Metropolitan Transit Commission.

That “temporary” assignment lasted until 1999, when he left Metro Transit to operate the state’s driver and vehicle services division. He subsequently became a member of then-Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s cabinet.

“In 2004, my predecessor left Metro Transit. They said, ‘Why don’t you come back?’ Running Metro Transit was always my dream job,” he said.

Lamb described the special rewards of providing public transportation to his family, friends, and neighbors: “I take quite a bit of pride in growing up in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. To help this area continue to grow and thrive is so much more than a paycheck. We’ve had a lot of success over the past 10 years, and I enjoy being part of that.”

Lamb said he gets feedback from friends and family members who use the service on a regular basis. “My sister is a daily rider and she keeps me balanced in terms of the quality of service we provide and her expectations. Like many other riders, she has a choice whether or not to use transit,” he said, adding: “I value that our service is on display, not just for the people I don’t know, but for the dozens and dozens I do know and who know me. They are my kitchen cabinet.”

Of course, things don’t always go smoothly. “This past week, I received a call from a very good friend who said his bus arrived 15 minutes late, causing him to be late for work, and what that meant to him,” Lamb said. “Having that kind of feedback loop is very important for me.”

John Nations
President and Chief Executive Officer
St. Louis Metro
St. Louis, MO

“I was born, raised, and educated here,” said John Nations.. “I always lived in St. Louis. I’m a third-generation St. ­Louisan and a seventh-generation Missourian. I never seriously considered living anywhere else.”

His strongest memories of using public transportation as a child were of taking the “Redbird Express” to St. Louis Cardinals baseball games: “I lived in a suburb called Webster Groves. With this service it was easy for me to ride into downtown, get to the game, then get home again.”

Nations had no background in public transit: He was an economic development lawyer and served as mayor and a city council member in Chesterfield, a suburb about 20 miles west of St. Louis. Still, in 2009 when Metro proposed eliminating service to his city as part of overall service cutbacks, he realized how many workers relied on the service to get to work and became an advocate for retaining it.

“You do a lot of things as mayor and sometimes you’re surprised by the ­reaction; few things I did got attention like that,” he said. “Here was the mayor of an upper-middle-class suburban community, saying the buses are important. The fact is, if you’re going to have a successful community, you need public transit.”

Following that effort, Metro officials invited Nations to lead a campaign to put the public transit tax back on the ballot. After the measure succeeded by a sizable margin, Metro approached him about succeeding the current chief executive.

Regarding his familiarity with the city and its history, Nations said: “I realize that every day I’m helping my family and friends—even the ones I haven’t met yet—helping them get to work and improve their lives. It’s such a rewarding thing to grow up in a community and feel that I’m making a difference to improve it.”

Joseph Casey
General Manager
Southeastern Pennsylvania ­Transportation Authority
Philadelphia, PA

Joseph Casey is a lifelong Philadelphian: “I was raised in Philadelphia, went to school here, and never left the area. The reason I didn’t is, it’s home. I love the city and I love being close to my family.”

As a child, Casey rode the city’s trolleys, buses, and subways. He noted that he used city buses for the daily trip to high school and then took the train into downtown to attend college. He worked for Conrail after college, then joined SEPTA in 1982.

Casey says his visibility as the general manager of SEPTA is both an advantage and a challenge. He gave an example of a childhood friend who reconnected with him because of his job.

“Recently, a labor lawyer downtown dropped his wallet on the train,” Casey related. “Before he could call anyone, the conductor found the wallet and was able to reach out to him, even driving to his residence to return the wallet. The lawyer called me to say thank you—and to reminisce about how we played football together while growing up.”

He added: “The downside is that ­people sometimes want specific help, asking if I can get a job for someone, or if I can tinker with the train schedule so the caller can get to work on time. I just accept that I can’t help everyone.”

Joni Earl
Chief Executive Officer
Sound Transit
Seattle, WA

Joni Earl has lived in “the beautiful Puget Sound region” for her entire life, but she was never a regular user of ­public transportation until she joined the agency in 2000. Her previous work experience had been in local government, serving as a city manager, deputy county executive, and county budget officer.

“Before this, I worked close to where I lived,” she explained. “Even when I went to school, our home was within 12 blocks of the school. So, when I took this job, I decided that I would ride public transit from day one. That gave me a perspective I’ve never forgotten: what it’s like to try transit when you’re a total newbie.”

Her own learning experiences helped Earl understand the challenges an agency must face in reaching out for new and choice riders—from the rider’s point of view.

“Because people who know me know I was not a regular transit rider before, they are amazed what an advocate for public transit I’ve become,” Earl continued. “Anyone around me can see how taking transit has changed my life. I use it every day, going out of my way not to drive. Now I’ve been able to get friends to start using it as well, letting them see how stress-free it is.”

As the head of a regional public transit agency, “I’m definitely visible,” she said. “I get the occasional e-mail from friends about asking me about the best route to a specific destination. Also, I hear the complaints if someone I know has had a bad service experience—on any public transit system in the region, not necessarily Sound Transit.”



Metro Transit GM Brian Lamb addresses a group of bus and train operators at the 2013 Metro Transit Outstanding Operator Awards ceremony.

John Nations, president and chief executive officer of St. Louis Metro, takes the podium at a press conference to announce a project to restore the city’s historic Eads Bridge.



Joe Casey, SEPTA general manager, boards a Broad Street Line car with the Phillies Phanatic.

Sound Transit Chief Executive Officer Joni Earl helps a rider find his destination on the agency’s light-rail opening day.


GCRTA Effort Educates About Human Trafficking

The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA) joined the Collaborative to End Human Trafficking to host an educational event Nov. 19 at the agency’s Louis Stokes Station at Windermere in East Cleveland. During the three-hour program, speakers from the seven participating organizations provided information for the public about human trafficking and how people can help each other.

East Cleveland Mayor and GCRTA Board Member Gary Norton addressed the program, along with representatives of police forces and social service and community agencies that provide resources for victims.

GCRTA is participating in an effort spearheaded by DOT to combat human trafficking, which includes industry leadership, education and training, public awareness, policy development, and information sharing and analysis. APTA is also
part of the Transportation Leaders Against Human Trafficking Initiative.

As part of this effort, GCRTA is conducting awareness training for more than 2,100 employees on recognizing and reporting the signs of human trafficking. More than 100 transit police officers have been trained in spotting indicators of human trafficking, such as people who do not have identification, those who have been coached in talking to police officers, or those who are
under the control of another person in a public place.

During GCRTA’s human trafficking awareness event, Transit Police Investigator Rhonda Briskey creates an identification card for an area child. The Transit Police created 32 of the child ID cards during the program.


Wi-Fi on AC Transit’s Commuter Buses

AC Transit in Oakland, CA, recently introduced to service the first 16 of 54 new commuter-style coaches for the transbay commute to San Francisco. Amenities of the new locally built vehicles from Gillig include free Wi-Fi, upholstered high-back seats, and individual reading lamps.

The new low floor buses are the third group acquired as part of AC Transit’s “A Better Ride” campaign and its Buy American Goods policy. Earlier this year, the agency introduced 60 low floor 40-foot buses from Gillig and 23 60-foot articulated buses from New Flyer. The balance of the current order is expected to arrive before spring.

Congressman Tours BAE Systems

Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY), center, toured BAE Systems HybriDrive® Solutions’ new facility in Endicott, NY, in November, learning more about the company’s operations, talking with employees, and taking a test drive. He was accompanied by Robert Devine, director of products and technology, left; Shawn Atkinson, senior production controller, right; and other BAE officials. HybriDrive is comprised of hybrid series, hybrid parallel, and power management systems for transit bus and rail, among other transportation industries.

TCRP Seeks Project Oversight Panel Nominees for 2014

The Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) is accepting nominations for people interested in serving on project oversight panels for Fiscal Year 2014 research projects. The deadline is Jan. 20, 2014.

The TCRP Oversight and Project Selection Committee, the governing board for the program, recently selected the following projects for the FY 2014 program:

* Improving the Resiliency of Transit Systems Threatened by Natural Disasters;
* The Relationship Between Asset Conditions and Service Quality;
* Contracting Commuter Rail Services;
* Understanding Changes in Demographics, Preferences, and Markets for the Transit Industry; and
* A Guidebook for Planning Transit Park-and-Ride Facilities.

To ensure proper consideration of all panel nominations, TCRP needs information on each nominee’s affiliation, title, address, approximate age and professional qualifications related to the particular project. Women and minority candidates are specifically invited to apply.

The panel nomination form is available here. Submittals can be e-mailed to Adrienne Blackwell.

Public Transit Collects Food Items

With the approach of Thanksgiving in the U.S. and the end-of-year holiday season, numerous public transportation agencies and businesses are collecting food and other items and conducting other efforts to support their communities. Here are a few examples.

The San Joaquin Regional Transit District (RTD), Stockton, CA, held its 15th Annual Stuff the Bus food drive Nov. 22-24, joined by public transit providers in Lodi and Escalon and other community partners. Since its first drive in 1999, RTD and its campaign partners have collected almost 180,000 pounds of food.

In Delaware, DART First State gathered 11.4 tons of food during its week-long Stuff the Bus event. The 16th annual event, held at several locations throughout the state, filled two 30-foot buses.

Employees of Clever Devices are concluding a year of charitable efforts by collecting almost 5,500 pounds of food. The company’s locations compete to see which can donate the largest amount.

During the year, Clever Devices employees raised $1,650, which the company then matched. Proceeds went to various locations around the nation, including an organization to prevent child abuse and neglect, food banks, and animal protection agencies. Company departments also host pot-luck lunches, which employees purchase. The company matches the proceeds and donates the funds to charity.

For the seventh year, SunLine Transit Agency, Thousand Palms, CA, collected food and nonperishable items for the homeless and others in need with a “Fill the Bus” Holiday Food Drive. SunLine parked two of its alternative-fueled buses at grocery store locations in the Coachella Valley to accept donations.

The Capital District Transportation Authority (CDTA) in Albany, NY, joined several other organizations and businesses for its “Stuff Our Bus” drive. Two CDTA vehicles will remain at an area car dealership through Dec. 21 to accept donations of nonperishable food items and slightly used clothing..

Also, CDTA is partnering with a radio station to collect 2,400 pounds of non-perishable food item in 24 hours for a regional food bank.

Cincinnati Metro and the Transit Authority of Northern Kentucky (TANK) in Fort Wright competed Nov. 23 to collect the most nonperishable items for local nonprofits. Metro won the friendly rivalry by bringing in almost 1,800 pounds of food, while TANK reported 1,600 pounds of donations.



Representatives of the Riverside County (CA) Sheriff’s Department helped the Riverside Transit Agency (RTA) and Operation SafeHouse fill two 40-foot buses with donated non-perishable food, linens, toiletries, and other items for the nonprofit group that helps at-risk and in-crisis youth. RTA and its partners held the fifth annual “Stuff the Bus” event Nov. 7 at locations throughout the county.

Engineers from CH2M HILL, HDR, Michael Baker Corporation/Wadsworth Construction, and Utah DOT collected 11,000 pounds of canned food for the Utah Food Bank. Each team also constructed a sculpture of cans of donated food as part of the “Canstruction” competition. The domed structure in the foreground is the beehive symbol that appears on Utah state road signs.



Meet Donna DeMartino!

Donna DeMartino
General Manager/Chief Executive Officer
San Joaquin Regional Transit District (RTD)
Stockton, CA
Member, Human Resources, Bus and Paratransit CEOs, Awards, Access, and Legislative committees; Authorization Task Force; Leadership APTA, Class of 1999

How many people do you employ at your agency?
We currently have fewer than 300 employees. This number includes not only people who work directly with the RTD but also our contractors, including MV Transportation, our largest contractor.

How long have you worked in the public transportation industry?
I’ve worked in the industry for more than 27 years, beginning as a part-time bus operator at Sacramento Regional Transit District, where I moved up and through the organization. I came to San Joaquin RTD almost 13 years ago as assistant general manager.

Nine months after I arrived, my predecessor, the general manager, died unexpectedly. It was one week after Sept. 11, 2001, so that was quite a sad and stressful week in my career. The board immediately appointed me acting general manager and made the appointment permanent in November of that year.

How long have you been an APTA member?
I’ve been with member agencies my whole public transportation career, but I’ve been very active in APTA since 1998 when I was selected for the second class of Leadership APTA. I’m very proud to be part of this distinguished class, which includes so many industry leaders. Many of my classmates became GMs. It’s an awesome program—even then it was quite rigorous. The success of our class really speaks to the quality of the program.

What drew you to a career in public transportation?
I didn’t plan a career in public transportation, as most people didn’t. I began my professional career as an elementary school teacher. But I was a single mom with six children to support and was looking for a way to supplement my income, so I became a part-time bus operator.

Within six months, I was selected to be part of the light-rail startup team in Sacramento—one of the first light rail projects in the country. It was an amazing opportunity to learn about rail, literally from the ground up, while working with industry icons Pete Cipolla and Cam Beach.

After I was selected for Leadership APTA, I completed my master’s degree in transportation management from San Jose State University (SJSU) and a construction ­management program at UC Davis. I now enjoy teaching transportation classes at SJSU and University of the Pacific.

What have you found to be the most valuable APTA benefit or resource? Which one helps you do your job?
There are so many, but a few top my list: legislative information and advocacy, conferences and networking opportunities, the peer reviews (I’ve been a recipient and a panelist), and the excellent website resources.

Please explain why or how this has helped.
APTA’s website covers so many areas—funding, legislation, regulations—everything transportation-related. You can always find an answer or a link. That’s so helpful!

I say this all the time when I teach: Intelligent people don’t have all the answers, but they know how to find them. I know that when I have a transportation question, I can find an answer at the APTA website.

I always introduce students to the APTA website in my classes. One student, an ­engineer at the California DOT, told me this is now his favorite resource.

What do you like most about your job?
I love providing a valuable service to the residents of my community. For our customers, we get them where they need to go by providing frequent, safe, reliable service. And for those who don’t ride, we provide them with services too, including relief from traffic ­congestion and improved air quality, to name a few.

What is unique about your agency? What would readers be surprised to learn?
People are surprised to learn how well Bus Rapid Transit works in Stockton, especially since it was met with so much initial skepticism.

We opened our first corridor—about 6 miles long—in under two years from concept to implementation. Our BRT buses have standing-room crowds throughout the day. Even on weekends, we average 70 riders an hour per bus. We’ve now opened three ­corridors in five years, and we’re working on a fourth. We’ll receive our first articulated buses in December to help handle the demand. And we did it all without incurring any debt (that is how we operate at RTD—we are debt free!). We funded our BRT through a combination of federal, state, and local grants.

It makes a real difference to our elected leaders when they drive by and see crowds of people waiting at the bus stops. Even people who don’t ride RTD can see what we’re trying to do—be innovative, improve passenger amenities, and build a better transportation system. We feel very supported by our community.


Meet Sherry Brown!

Sherry Brown
Administrative Assistant, Safety and Security
Member Services Department

What are the top job ­elements you focus on the most—your primary responsibilities?
I provide administrative ­support for APTA’s Safety and Security Division of the ­Member Services Department, which encourages safe and secure practices within public transpor­tation. I provide administrative support for several programs, including the System Safety Management Program and Peer Reviews.

Through the System Safety Management Program—available for bus, rail transit, and commuter rail—an APTA audit team assesses the safety and security needs of an agency and provides suggestions on how to enhance the safe practices already in place. My responsibiliities include setting the schedule for the audits, compiling the audit reports, and arranging the logistics to get auditors from one public transit agency to the next. Public transit agencies not currently participating in this ­program can contact me for further details.

The Peer Review Program sends public transit professionals to an agency to examine a specific security or safety problem or condition and offer recommendations on corrective action to be taken. Again, my duties involve preparing the final report and making travel arrangements for the peer review panel. I had an opportunity to sit in on a peer review and saw the ­benefit in getting unbiased suggestions from individuals who understand the needs of a transit agency.

Do you have direct ­contact with APTA ­members? If so, please talk about the most recent times you’ve helped out a member.
I am in touch with APTA members regularly with regard to audit scheduling and the peer review process. Recently I received a call from a member who wished to present a question to her peers. I pointed her to the APTA membership forum, and we posted her question, which in turn received an excellent response.

Sometimes participants in one of the audit programs call me with questions, and I refer them to the auditor who conducted the study.

However, most of the contact I have with members is about ­setting up the dates for an audit. We may set a date, then things happen, and we have to change it. It’s important to stay flexible to meet the needs of our members.

What initiatives, projects, or programs have you worked on at APTA that you have taken particular pride in completing?
Currently I am compiling information to mark the 100th anniversary of the APTA Transit Safety Awards. It has been a blast to pore through decades of transit safety history. The old pictures and documents provide a glimpse into the years of commitment on the part of the association to provide safe and secure conditions within public transportation.

How did you “land” at APTA? How long have you worked here?
Before joining APTA, I worked for a cosmetics company in the human resources and accounting department. I realized the importance of public transportation while at that job: it was in the outer suburbs of Northern Virginia, and public transit options were limited.

I have worked at APTA for more than 12 years. I began in the Human Resources Department, moved to Office Services, and finally landed with the Safety and Security team. In my opinion it was the right move—they are the best division at APTA!

Could you tell us something about yourself that might surprise us?
One of my hobbies I guess you could say is collecting elephants—not real ones! The ­collection began when my younger sister—who is very ­artistic—made me an elephant out of clay while she was in high school. Now, whenever my friends see an elephant, they have to bring it home for me. They are made of all sorts of ­materials, and I have probably 80 of them, all of them gifts.

More importantly, I am both an avid student and teacher of the Bible. It centers my life and gives me joy to share the hope it extends with others.

Make sure you see Sherry Brown's video, now that you've read this!


2013 Public Transportation Fact Book Now Available

The 2013 APTA Public Transportation Fact Book is now available by clicking here.

This reference book, published annually, contains national aggregate statistical data covering all aspects of the public transit industry in the U.S. and Canada. Major sections include an overview of U.S. transit facts, transit finances and operating statistics by modes of travel, transit vehicle characteristics and deliveries, facts and numbers relating to federal grants and the Federal Transit Act, and statistical trends of Canadian transit operations.

Two appendices that provide additional in-depth information—historical data and public transit agency and urbanized area operating statistics—are also available.

The 2013 volume is the 64th edition of the Public Transportation Fact Book (formerly the Transit Fact Book), which was first published in 1943. Available data are expanded by standard statistical methods to estimate U.S. national totals. All data are for the U.S. only, except for the section on Canada. Data for Canada were provided by the Canadian Urban Transit Association.

Information in the 2013 Fact Book is based on data from the FTA’s National Transit Database for 2011, the most recent available statistics.

The 63 previous editions of the Fact Book can be found here. More information is available from John Neff or Matt Dickens.

Database Reveals Trends in Public Transportation Vehicle Fleets

Public transit agencies are ­constantly investing in vehicles and technologies that make the experience better for riders. Here are some examples, as reported in the 2013 APTA Public Transportation Vehicle Database.

Alternate Fuels
As of 2013, 40.4 percent of the U.S. ­public transit bus fleet operates with alternate fuels, compared with 13.3 percent in 2004 and only 2 percent in 1992. The most common alternative fuels are natural gas (compressed or ­liquefied), representing 20 percent of the total bus fleet; hybrid technology, 13.2 percent; and biodiesel, 7 percent.

Sixty-one APTA member agencies have hybrid buses in their fleets, and hybrids make up 11 percent of the vehicles on order at public transit agencies.

The New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority operates more than 1,600 hybrid  buses, the largest hybrid fleet in the U.S. The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority and Seattle’s King County DOT each operate more than 600 hybrid buses. Seventeen U.S. bus agencies (13 percent of responding agencies) have 100 percent alternate fuel fleets.

Vehicle Age
APTA statistics show that the ­public transit bus fleet is getting newer, improving from an average age of 8 years in 2011 to 7.8 years in 2013. Commuter rail cars improved from an average age of 18.2 to 17 years, while heavy rail cars aged from 20.2 to 20.5 years. The light rail vehicle fleet aged from 16.6 years to 17.8 years.

A contributing factor to the addition of new vehicles was an improved financial situation for many public transit agencies, including funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

More public transit agencies are providing Wi-Fi on board their vehicles. The percentage of buses with Wi-Fi access grew from 0.5 percent in 2008 to 1.1 percent in 2010 and to 3.8 percent in 2013.

More than 13 percent of commuter rail cars offer Wi-Fi, up from 0.5 percent in 2008 and 7.5 percent in 2010. Miami-Dade Transit has equipped all its Metrorail heavy rail vehicles with Wi-Fi, while the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District is running a pilot program on 15 vehicles. The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, San Jose, CA, is the first light rail system with ­in-vehicle Wi-Fi service.

On-Board Electrical Outlets
U.S. commuter rail systems provide electrical outlets on board 65.5 percent of their cars in 2013, compared with just 14.4 percent in 2009. On buses, 2.7 percent have electrical outlets, an increase from 1.6 percent in 2009. On longer trips, these outlets help passengers power a laptop to do work or charge a mobile device.

Automated Stop Announcements
As of 2013, 55.6 percent of buses have automated stop announcements, an increase of more than 10 percent compared with 2008. During the same period, the percentage of commuter rail cars with this technology increased from 31.5 percent to 44 percent in 2013, and 49.6 percent of heavy rail vehicles have the technology compared with 37.5 percent in 2008. The largest percentage is on board light rail: 82.8 percent in 2013, up from 53.3 ­percent in 2008.

Automatic Vehicle Location
Global Positioning Satellite and Automated Vehicle Locator (AVL) systems are increasingly available on public transit vehicles: In 2013, 70.9 percent of buses and 66.9 percent of light rail vehicles had such systems. Forty-two bus agencies have AVL systems on at least 95 percent of their vehicles. Heavy rail vehicles usually use track circuitry or signaling systems to provide vehicle location information and arrival times.

APTA publishes the Public Trans­por­tation Vehicle Database annually for the benefit of its members and the public. It is available here.


Who's Doing What in the Industry

Frank M. Spataro, Daron Brown
CINCINNATI, OH—­Cincinnati Metro has appointed Frank M. Spataro as executive director of human resources/Equal Employment Opportunity officer and promoted Daron Brown to assistant director of the Fleet & Facilities Department.

Spataro is a human resources professional with more than 35 years of experience, who most recently served as human resources director in Oak Park, IL.

Brown has worked for Metro in various capacities for more than 24 years. He was most recently the agency’s quality assurance and maintenance superintendent and played a major role in developing Metro’s Maintenance Apprenticeship Program, which started in 2011.

Rebecca Young-Montgomery, Scott Mahaffey, André McEwing, Carter Burdette
­FORT WORTH, TX—Rebecca Young-Montgomery has joined the Fort Worth Transportation Authority as assistant vice president for government relations. She succeeds Shawna ­Russell, who accepted a position with the Texas Transit Institute.

Young-Montgomery is a government relations professional, holding positions in state government and the Texas Legislature where she was chief of staff to Rep. John Smithee.

The authority’s Board of Directors has re-elected Scott Mahaffey, president and chief executive officer of Cohn & Gregory Inc., as its chair for Fiscal Year 2014.

André McEwing, manager of supplier diversity, ­Tarrant County ­College District, was elected vice chair and Carter ­Burdette, an attorney and former Fort Worth City Council member, was elected secretary.

Robert Pinghero
NEW YORK, NY—AECOM Technology Corporation has appointed Robert Pinghero, P.E., as transit/rail manager in the New York Metro District, based in New York City.

Pinghero brings more than 25 years of public transit management experience to AECOM, having previously worked on projects for clients such as MTA New York City Transit, New Jersey Transit Corporation, and MTA Metro-North Railroad.

Rick Cunningham
ALEXANDRIA, VA—Rick ­Cunningham has joined Atkins’ planning practice as director of planning and urban design based in Alexandria. He will focus on Atkins’ cities business, including the company’s new global “Future Proofing Cities” initiative.

Most recently, Cunningham was planning director for the city of Omaha, NE, reporting to the mayor and serving on his cabinet. In that position, he managed the Urban Planning, Housing and Community Development, and Building and Development divisions. He has more than three decades of experience.

Charles Hall, Lee Castellion, Lara Karamatsu
NEW YORK, NY—Parsons ­Brinckerhoff (PB) announced the appointments of Charles Hall as a senior technical manager in its New York City office and Lee ­Castellion as a senior communications engineer in its Denver office.

Hall joins PB with more than 24 years of rail/transit experience. He most recently was director of construction for a New York electrical contractor and earlier worked for PB in London on a major rail modernization program.

Castellion has 25 years of systems engineering experience. Prior to joining PB, he was a senior systems solution engineer with a leading communications company, ­serving as designated subject matter expert for transit.

Also, Lara ­Karamatsu, a civil engineer in PB’s ­Honolulu office, recently received the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) 2013 Edmund Friedman Young Engineer Award for Professional Achievement.

Joseph Sambaer, Patrick Cannon, Robert Swanson
LANSING, MI—The Capital Area Transportation Authority (CATA) Board of Directors elected Joseph ­Sambaer its chair. A CATA board member since 2003 representing Lansing Township and former vice chair, he is a senior mortgage banker at Summit Community Bank.

Patrick Cannon, who was named vice chair, has represented Meridian Township on the board for 22 years, serving as its secretary-treasurer for the past four years. He recently retired as director of the ­Michigan Commission for the Blind. He also served on the U.S. Access Board and was an advisor to ­Michigan Gov. ­Jennifer Granholm.

Robert Swanson, named secretary-treasurer, has been a member of the board since 2007, representing the city of Lansing. Following more than 34 years in state and ­government service, he retired in 2007 as director of the Department of Labor and Economic Growth and a member of ­Granholm’s cabinet.

Megan H. Kleinman, Lindsay Ford Ellis
COLUMBUS, OH—The ­Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) announced the appointments of Megan H. Kleinman as senior counsel and Lindsay Ford Ellis as associate counsel.

Kleinman joins COTA after four years with Carlile Patchen & Murphy LLP. She also spent five years as an Ohio assistant attorney general in the Employment and Labor Relations sections.

Ellis most recently worked for the Supreme Court of Ohio as a judicial attorney for Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor. Earlier, she was an associate with Crabbe, Brown & James LLP.

Nick Antonucci
ARLINGTON, VA—HNTB Corporation has named Nick Antonucci, P.E., vice president, as mid-Atlantic district leader and leader of its Arlington office. He will have overall responsibility for operations and client relations in Virginia, Washington, DC, West Virginia, and Maryland.

Antonucci has more than 14 years of experience. Since joining HNTB in 2007, he has held successive leadership roles, most recently serving as mid-Atlantic deputy office leader, office delivery ­manager, and sales manager.

Gena Shelton
COLUMBUS, OH—Gena Shelton has been named state coordinator for Ohio Operation Lifesaver. She succeeds Steve ­Friday, who became deputy director of security and safety at the Ohio Statehouse.

Shelton has worked as a consultant assisting nonprofit organizations with planning, programming, and outreach. She spent the beginning of her career working in higher education, representing Ohio’s nonprofit colleges and universities before government and regulatory agencies.

Lawrence Marinesi
SAN DIEGO, CA—The San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) has promoted nine-year employee Lawrence Marinesi to chief financial officer (CFO). He succeeds Clifford Telfer, who retired after 37 years of service.

Marinesi began his career with MTS in 2004 as a budget manager before being promoted to director of financial planning and analysis in 2010. Telfer started as a grant analyst in 1976 and became CFO in 2008.

Savannah Maziya
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA—­Savannah Maziya has been named chairman of the board of Parsons Brinckerhoff Africa (Pty) Ltd., the Africa affiliate of Parsons Brinckerhoff.

Maziya has extensive industry experience, including serving as group chief executive officer of Bunengi Holdings and national sales and investment manager (USA) at Cacharel. She also was president of Serengeti Portfolio of Prestige and chief executive officer of the African Broadcast Network.

Rep. James L. Oberstar
ATLANTA, GA—Former U.S. Rep. James L. Oberstar has joined the board of directors of the Center for Transportation and the Environment, a national university transportation center based at North Carolina State University's Centennial Campus in Raleigh.

During his 36 years representing ­Minnesota in the House, Oberstar became an expert on transportation policy. He served on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee during his entire tenure in Congress and was its chair from 2007-2011.

Michael T. McNamara
VALLEY FORGE, PA—Michael T. McNamara, P.E., president of ­Gannett Fleming Transit & Rail Systems, a division of Gannett Fleming, has been named to Penn State Altoona’s Rail Transportation Engineering (RTE) Advisory Board.

The mission of the board, formed in October of this year, is to stimulate and nurture the university’s new four-year degree program that prepares students for careers in railroad management and engineering.

McNamara has more than 35 years of experience in the design, construction, and maintenance of railroads and transit systems.

Freda Hardage
ATLANTA, VA--Freda Hardage, a registered nurse and longtime medical executive, has joined the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority Board of Directors representing Fulton County.

She is completing the remainder of the term of Adam Orkin, who resigned. The term expires Dec. 31, 2014.