Passenger Transport - December 13, 2013
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BREAKING NEWS

House Passes Budget

The House of Representatives passed a two-year bipartisan budget agreement Dec. 12 by a vote of 332-94, reducing the likelihood of another government shutdown next year.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), chair, House Committee on the Budget, and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), chair, Senate Budget Committee, negotiated the agreement, which sets discretionary spending at more than $1 trillion for the next two fiscal years and replaces sequester cuts that were scheduled to take effect in January.

The Senate is expected to approve the budget next week. President Barack Obama has indicated he will sign the bill into law.

NEWS HEADLINES

DOT Secretary Foxx Weighs In: Public Transportation in 2013

Passenger Transport recently had the opportunity to pose several questions to DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx regarding the state of public transportation. He commented on a wide range of topics, from MAP-21 to bipartisanship, high-speed rail, his priorities, and what’s ahead for public transportation.

PT: As the deadline approaches for the expiration of MAP-21, can you please share your thoughts for how we develop a multi-year, multimodal transportation funding bill? What are the opportunities, and what are the challenges?

Sec. Foxx: We’ve made a lot of progress with MAP-21. It provided states and communities two years of steady funding and the certainty needed to invest in critical road, bridge, and transit projects. But as you note, the expiration of MAP-21 is approaching quickly, and there is no doubt that we need a long-term, sustainable transportation bill. Throughout my confirmation process and my first few months as secretary, I have been encouraged to hear both Republicans and ­Democrats speak about the need for transportation investment. President Obama said that transportation funding could play a large part in reaching a bipartisan budget agreement. The fact that transportation infrastructure still attracts bipartisan support is a key opportunity.

The biggest challenge, of course, is determining how to pay for it. We need Congress to pass a bill that supports the President’s efforts to continue addressing our short- and long-term infrastructure needs. President Obama has shared his ideas on investing in the infrastructure we need to move our nation forward. His proposed budget for FY2014, for example, includes $9 billion for immediate transportation investments that would, among other things, address serious state-of-good-repair needs to modernize public transit in urban, suburban, and rural communities alike. We’re starting to hear recommendations from Congress, too. Transitioning from a monologue to a dialogue is not easy, but we stand ready to work with Congress to get this done.

I’d also like to mention two additional opportunities related to the overall funding challenge—the opportunity to increase efficiency both within DOT and across the country and the opportunity to help connect more people to the 21st century economy. Transportation plays a key role in strengthening regional economies, whether by moving goods or helping people get to work and school on time, and I have made it a priority at DOT to ensure that more Americans have access to what the President calls “ladders of opportunity.”

At the same time, particularly given today’s ­fiscal environment, we are working hard to stretch every dollar as far as possible by using new technologies and approaches that deliver projects even faster and under budget.

PT: Any thoughts on developing bipartisan support for the next transportation funding bill?

Foxx: America is hungry for transportation investment. In my meetings with members of Congress and in my travels across the country, everyone I’ve spoken with agrees that we need to invest in transportation.

This is particularly true at the local level, when people see transportation investment less as an abstract policy and more as the physical bus line, bridge, or commuter rail that will actually help their neighbors get where they need to go. There’s a lot of room for agreement when you start there, and I hope that keeping that in mind will help everyone as we tackle the larger questions in ­Washington.

PT: You’ve been clear in your goal to make sequestration as painless as possible for DOT, while acknowledging that there probably will be difficult choices ahead. What are the consequences of sequestration on the department and how are they likely to affect the public transportation industry—both public transit agencies and the private sector?

Foxx: Sequestration is not a good way to run the government, and it’s certainly not the way anyone would run a business.
For example, as a result of sequestration cuts, coupled with FY2013 budget cuts, FTA was unable to make new funding commitments for capital transit infrastructure projects under the Capital Investment Grant Program (known as New Starts) for the first time in roughly 20 years. Under sequestration, this program sustained a nearly $100 million cut. Consequently, FTA has been required to slow down payments, which may require cities to borrow funds to cover short-term shortfalls, costing communities more in the long-run to build and expand the transit services that millions of riders depend on.

I am hopeful that Congress will review the impacts we faced under sequestration and the government shutdown this year and act to avoid a worse situation in 2014. Nonetheless, we must live within the budget that Congress provides for FY2014, and we are assessing available options to minimize the effects. Should we be forced to implement another round of budget cuts, however, the effects will be felt across the Department.

PT: One of President Obama’s most prominent—and controversial—transportation-related priorities is high-speed rail. How do you respond to the critics? What are the next steps to moving America closer to high-speed rail?

Foxx: We need a 21st century rail system to keep our economy growing over the long-term. Our highways and airports today are stretched to their limits; the challenge ahead of us is to safely, reliably, and efficiently move more than 100 million additional people in just the next few decades. Our investments are having a major impact. They’re at work now improving 6,000 rail corridor miles—raising speeds, reducing trip times, and adding service in five rapidly growing regions.

We must remember that major transportation challenges aren’t met overnight. We achieved our goal of building the world’s best highway system because we backed the effort with sustained funding to keep us focused through 28 sessions of Congress and 10 administrations. We will achieve our goal for rail by backing it with a dedicated funding source we’ve provided to our highways and other forms of transportation, which is exactly what the President has proposed to do in his 2014 budget.

PT: You’ve been a very visible proponent of public transportation in your home city of Charlotte. How will those experiences translate to the national level? What lessons in pragmatic policymaking can you bring to the often fractured discussions in Washington, DC?

Foxx: Two key lessons come to mind: strengthening bipartisanship and improving efficiency.

First, when it comes to transportation, everything we do has a local impact and requires local cooperation. As mayor of Charlotte, I worked with Republicans and Democrats, businesses, and government to address the challenges facing our city. Time after time, we put aside our differences to do what was right for our constituents. I’ve brought that lesson to Washington, where I hope we can build on the bipartisan belief that more infrastructure investment is needed.

Second, as mayor I experienced first-hand the successes but also the challenges and frustrations that go along with obtaining and coordinating federal funding of local transportation priorities. I am committed to cutting red tape, eliminating waste, and streamlining our policies and procedures every step of the way.

Earlier in his administration, President Obama called on all departments to find ways to operate more efficiently and save taxpayers money. DOT has undertaken many improvements in this area. For example, in January 2012, about nine months prior to the enactment of MAP-21, FTA pursued a number of common-sense changes to its capital grant programs that will help local project sponsors potentially shave six months or more off the time that is now required to move major projects through the New Starts pipeline. The changes are estimated to save project sponsors almost $500,000 annually by requiring less time-consuming paperwork and to achieve other time savings as well.

I intend to build on our track record of achievement in the months ahead. We are continually looking for new and better ways to deliver value to the American people.

PT: You replaced Ray LaHood, who has been widely applauded as one of the most effective secretaries of transportation in recent memory. Can you share a few thoughts about his legacy, and your plans for setting new priorities for the department?

Foxx: Secretary LaHood embraced the notion that businesses, the public, and all levels of government must work together to find pragmatic solutions for transportation challenges we face—while not using a one-size-fits-all approach.

It’s this bipartisan, pragmatic approach that made him so effective at the Department of Transportation and a model I’m proud to embrace. The work he did to raise awareness on distracted driving will also be a key part of his legacy. Secretary LaHood really moved the needle on the issue, and I hope to carry on that work.

My focus as secretary is in three areas. The first is ensuring that our transportation is the safest in the world.
I also plan to focus on improving the efficiency and performance of our existing transportation system. Cutting-edge transportation leaders across the country are finding new ways to boost productivity through better use of technology, data, economic analysis, and private-sector innovation, such as public-private partnerships, to bring more private-sector capital and innovation into the infrastructure marketplace.

Finally, we must build this country’s infrastructure to meet the needs of the next generation of Americans. The federal government has a responsibility to help ensure our global competitiveness by investing in a robust, multimodal transportation system, a stronger national freight network, and key innovations like Next Gen and advanced roadway, bus, and rail technology.

PT: Looking down the road a few years, what are your thoughts for fully investing in America’s public transportation infrastructure? What role will emerging public-private partnerships play? How can the federal government partner with states, and even cities? What other opportunities do you foresee?

Foxx: With new investments and innovation in public transit infrastructure, we can continue to do as generations before us have done: Move faster, safer, smarter and in a way that helps our economy grow. The challenge is to find innovative ways to finance the infrastructure we need to keep this nation competitive. The private sector has an important role to play, and public-private partnerships are an excellent foundation on which to build.

Denver, for example, has done a great job leveraging a consortium of private companies to help design, build, and maintain an ambitious 70 miles of new commuter and light rail service for the region, including a substantial investment from the federal government. I will actively encourage the private sector to partner with state and local governments on a range of innovative transportation-related projects.

Across all five rounds of the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program, DOT provided more than $3.6 billion to 270 projects in all 50 states. That is just a drop in the bucket compared to the demand that’s out there. In our most recent round of funding, we received 585 applications requesting more than $9 billion. That’s 18 times the amount we had available. This tells me—and I know from my experience as mayor—that every state and community has a to-do list. The projects we’re supporting at DOT represent the kind of work we should be doing more of across the country.

It is also important to remember that public transportation is not just for major metropolitan areas. Last September, the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority in rural Colorado opened for service the nation’s first rural bus rapid transit system. Early reports are that the transit agency is experiencing a nearly 30 percent increase in ridership over last year—and hundreds of middle- and low-income workers now have an affordable alternative to commuting 70 miles a day in their cars.

We have seen the value transit delivers to many communities, from Kent, Ohio, to El Paso, Texas, but we can only accomplish so much with limited and constrained federal resources. As I’ve said before, we need a real dialogue about the future of transportation in the United States, which is a major economic driver for this generation, and generations to come.

UTA Launches S-Line: First Streetcar Operation in Salt Lake City Region

The Utah Transit Authority (UTA) in Salt Lake City marked the opening of its first streetcar line, the S-Line, with ceremonies Dec. 5 at the South Salt Lake City and Fairmont stations. The two-mile S-Line—the first segment of UTA’s planned Sugar House Streetcar—is the first modern streetcar in the UTA system, joining buses, TRAX light rail, and FrontRunner commuter rail.

FTA Administrator Peter M. Rogoff joined Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker, South Salt Lake City Mayor Cherie Wood, UTA General Manager Michael Allegra, and UTA Board Chair Greg Hughes at the opening celebration, which included a streetcar ride with stops in both Salt Lake City and South Salt Lake City.

The S-Line connects riders with the Central Pointe TRAX Station at the west end and the Sugar House commercial business district at the east end, with a total of seven stops. The streetcar line also integrates bicycle and pedestrian trails.

The new service connects thousands of area residents with local employers, shops, and area attractions and is expected to spur millions of dollars in residential and retail development along the route. Funding for the $55 million project included a $26 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery discretionary grant; the balance of funding was provided locally.

More than $400 million in construction for new or redeveloped housing, retail, and office space is completed or under way in the Sugar House Business District, with millions of dollars more in development planned for the South Salt Lake City end. The project has created roughly 700 construction-related jobs. UTA and Salt Lake City are planning two extensions to the streetcar line.

“The new streetcar line is the latest addition to a 70-mile network of rail transit stretching from Salt Lake City to South Jordan and Draper,” Rogoff noted, “bringing millions of dollars in new investments, jobs, and opportunities to millions of area residents and businesses.” Ultimately, it will connect to more than 130 miles of existing and planned rail service across the Wasatch Front.

Speakers noted that the opening of the S-Line marks the completion of the major capital phases of UTA’s five-year expansion plan.

On Dec. 7, the public attended community celebrations at the Fairmont and 300 East streetcar stations.

Crowds await the arrival of UTA's S-Line streetcar on a snowy December morning.

Federal Issues Marked By Uncertainty, Gridlock

BY CHRISTIAN RICHARDS, APTA Legislative Analyst

This year was—quietly—a wild one for public transportation. While there was no major surface transportation authorization bill like last year, the process of implementing the legislation—the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21)—came into full swing. Additionally, the industry had to weather the federal government shutdown, develop recommendations for the next authorization bill, and work with industry partners to call attention to the solvency issues facing the Highway Trust Fund.

The transportation community also welcomed a new DOT secretary: Anthony Foxx, who was sworn in as the department’s 17th secretary in July. The former Charlotte, NC, mayor succeeded Ray LaHood.

Ominous Beginning
As many public transportation leaders might recall, 2013 began with a bipartisan deal to avert the “fiscal cliff,” which included a delay of the sequestration cuts and an extension of some of the Bush-era tax cuts. Sequestration eventually came to pass, but its affects on the public transit industry were restricted to the programs supported by the General Fund.

Congress also passed a $10.9 billion supplemental bill for the FTA Emergency Relief program aimed at restoring the systems and infrastructure damaged as a result of Superstorm Sandy. The affected agencies and their needs contributed to the national attention on infrastructure.

Government Shutdown
The big news of the year was the two-week-long shutdown of the federal government in October. Republicans and Democrats found themselves at an impasse over sequestration, the FY14 budget and appropriations, and a host of other issues, and were unable either to finish the appropriations process or to complete a shorter term funding bill prior to the end of FY13 on Sept. 30.

As part of the resolution to the crisis, Congress reached an agreement that included both a continuing resolution (CR), which funds the federal government through Jan. 15, 2014, and a mandatory conference committee dedicated to producing a budget resolution. Going forward, both items will play heavily into public transportation’s ability to meet its obligations.

FY14 Appropriations
Currently, the federal government, including all DOT and FTA programs, are operating under the CR agreed to in the wake of the shutdown. The CR funds DOT and FTA at prior year (FY13) levels, which included sequestration cuts to FTA’s General Fund programs, as well as cuts to Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority and Amtrak grants.

However, the CR expires shortly after the New Year, and Congress has taken no major action to ensure that funding continues through the end of the fiscal year. FTA has not yet apportioned this year’s funds, due to the truncated funding timetable and uncertainty over the amount of full-year appropriations, although it has made funding available for public transit systems requiring financial assistance prior to the apportionment of FY14 funds.

Budget Talks
The other major component of the deal to reopen the federal government was the Conference Committee on the Budget, established to reach an agreement primarily on top-line discretionary spending levels.

As Passenger Transport went to press, details of the agreement reached between Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray (D-WA) and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI), were being released, which could lead to a vote in the House as early as Dec. 13.

Until both the budget and the appropriations bills are completed, it will be unclear how each will affect public transportation. The budget details that have emerged suggest a loosening of the sequestration cuts in FY14-15. Further, APTA has weighed-in with the Budget Committee conferees, urging them to make allowances in the budget for legislators to be able to fix the Highway Trust Fund’s funding issue.

Regulatory Issues
FTA has been hard at work developing the necessary regulations to fulfill the requirements of MAP-21. Most notably, FTA issued an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) on Safety and Transit Asset Management.

Due to the size and importance of the ANPRM, APTA has been hosting a series of webinars for its members to develop answers to the questions listed in the notice, as well as guiding APTA members in drafting comments to the docket. Comments are due Jan. 2. In addition, APTA members have commented on MPO Representation rulemaking, Formula Grants for Rural Areas Circular changes, and others.

Tax Issues
The two major tax issues that affect public transit agencies—the Commuter Tax Benefit and the Alternative Fuels Tax Credit—remain unresolved and will expire at the end of the calendar year.

The Commuter Tax Benefit is a fringe benefit that employers are able to give their employees. Currently, this benefit and the Parking Benefit, another fringe benefit, are in parity at $240 a month, meaning that an employee can take a pre-tax benefit up to $240 a month for either public transportation or parking to ease commuting costs. Unless Congress acts, the Commuter Tax Benefit drops on Jan. 1 to $130 per month, and the parking subsidy actually increases. APTA has repeatedly urged Congress to maintain parity between the two benefits. Because it is nearly impossible to retroactively apply the Commuter Tax Benefit, APTA hopes Congress will find a solution before Dec. 31.

The Alternative Fuels Tax Credit’s future also remains uncertain. Public transportation providers use the tax credit to convert their conventionally powered vehicles to compressed or liquefied natural gas. Without the tax credit, many public transit agencies, if not all, would be unable to convert to this cleaner fuel source.

PRIIA and RSIA
Advocates for transportation and infrastructure investment were heartened to see Congress make bipartisan progress on another significant piece of infrastructure legislation. Early in the year, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee moved a bipartisan Water Resources Development Act bill to the full Senate, where it passed by a broad margin of 83-14. Later in the year, optimism continued when the House passed the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s version of the bill by an even larger margin of 417-3.

Both the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act (PRIIA) and the Rail Safety Improvement Act (RSIA) expired in September; industry leaders hoped both acts would be reauthorized prior to the expiration. Congress has done little to address reauthorization, in part because most of its efforts were spent on the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA). With WRDA now moving to conference, members of Congress could turn their attention to rail legislation.

Surface Transportation ­Authorization
MAP-21 expires Sept. 30, and APTA is prepared to offer recommendations as Congress looks to pass the next surface transportation bill. Early this month, APTA adopted its new authorization recommendations and is preparing to work with Congress to address the industry’s needs in the next bill.

PSTA Breaks Ground for New Transit Center

Leaders and staff from the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA), the city of Pinellas Park, FL, and state, county, and local elected officials participated in a groundbreaking on Dec. 2 for a new transit service center in Pinellas Park.

The center, the first of its kind in central Pinellas, will feature a customer service window and other amenities for the hundreds of riders who pass through the facility every day.

“This facility will be a very, very important component in our network of current and future transit services and it will play a key role in our new county-wide Greenlight Pinellas Plan,” said Brad Miller, PSTA chief executive officer. “I’m proud to say that this project is the direct result of a fantastic partnership between PSTA, the city of Pinellas Park, and the property owner, Boulder Venture.” The Greenlight ­Pinellas Plan features improved, countywide bus service and a future light rail system, agency officials said.

“It is critically important that we have facilities like this available,” said Kathleen Peters, state representative and former PSTA board member. “Ridership is up, and we have to make sure that the infrastructure that we put together is sound on every level.”

Agency officials expect the new center to be open and operational within six months.

Officials representing the PSTA Board of Directors, Pinellas Board of County Commissioners, area city councils, and other partners joined Brad Miller, PSTA chief executive officer, far left, at the recent ground breaking.

MD MTA Begins Work on New Baltimore Bus Facility

The Maryland Transit Administration (MD MTA) broke ground recently on a $140 million project to replace the 66-year-old Kirk Avenue Bus Facility in northeast Baltimore. In attendance were DOT Deputy Secretary John D. Porcari, FTA Administrator Peter M. Rogoff, Maryland Transportation Secretary James T. Smith Jr., Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD), and Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.

The two-phase project will replace the existing facility with two new buildings: the $65 million Maintenance Facility Building (Phase I) and the $75 million Transportation and Storage Building (Phase II). Both new facilities will be fully enclosed, reducing noise, exhaust fumes, and visibility of the buses to the surrounding community.

Funding for Phase I includes a $40 million federal State of Good Repair Grant. The state Transportation Infrastructure Investment Act of 2013 provides $75 million in funding for Phase II, part of an additional $4.4 billion in transportation projects
supporting 57,200 jobs.

Smith said the “state-of-the-art bus facility . . . will enhance our transit operations in the Baltimore area and provide needed relief to nearby residents,” as well as bringing “jobs, improved transit services, and a cleaner environment to Baltimore.”

The Maintenance Facility Building, being built on a site across the street from the existing Kirk Facility, includes a 100,000-square-foot structure, designed with sustainable energy-efficient features; 15 maintenance bays, including six that will accommodate articulated buses; 13 bus storage bays; facilities for preventive maintenance, vehicle inspections, heavy repairs, fueling, washing, radio dispatching, administrative offices and operator support facilities; and employee parking.

The Transportation and Storage Building is currently in design. Construction is expected to begin in fall 2015 and take two years to complete.

APTA Report Studies Transitís Impact on Business Clusters

Companies located in the nation’s most productive regions need additional public transportation to reach their full employment potential, according to a recent APTA-commissioned report, The Role of Transit in Support of High Growth Business Clusters in the U.S.

The study examines the key high-growth and high-tech business clusters in the United States and analyzes the impact transportation access constraints have on eight areas. The report projects that by 2040, 480,000 new jobs representing $32 billion per year in income will be at risk due to congestion.

The eight areas featured in the report are the ‘Medline’ area in Atlanta, GA; Kendall Square in Boston, MA; Route 128 Technology Cluster in Burlington, MA; Mid-Town and South of Market, San Francisco, CA; ­Silicon Valley, CA; Deerfield, IL; Technology Center, Denver, CO; and South Lake Union, Seattle, WA.

“Public transportation provides the access to enable high-tech and high-growth industries to cluster in areas that can attract the talent they need, while avoiding the consequences of constrained growth,” said APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy. Public transit investment is a key ingredient in helping these firms enhance their productivity and compete on a global stage, he added.

The report, conducted by the Economic Development Research Corporation, was unveiled at a December event on Capitol Hill sponsored by the Congressional Public Transportation Caucus.

“This study shows that robust ­public transit is critical to our economy, especially in high-growth areas,” said Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL). Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY) agreed, saying that “it is readily apparent in New York City that public transit is vital to economic development.” “When you invest in public transit, you get back four times the benefit.”

The report notes a fundamental change in the U.S. economy. In the future, a disproportionate number of American jobs will be in knowledge-based industries that are most successful when firms locate near one another. As a result, these firms have specific location requirements and increasingly depend upon a workforce that wants a number of mobility options. Therefore, to optimize employment opportunity, public transportation investment will be a necessary ingredient.

The report is available here.

FRA Issues Safety Advisory

FRA issued an industry-wide safety advisory Dec. 11 to reinforce federal ­regulations regarding maximum authorized train speed limits. The advisory provides guidance on four recommended measures:

* Review the circumstances of the recent derailment with their operating employees;
* Provide instruction to employees during training classes and safety briefings on the importance of compliance with maximum authorized train speed limits and other speed restrictions;
* Evaluate results of operational data regarding speed testing; and
* Reinforce the importance of communication among train crew members located in the controlling locomotive.

DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx said that “safety is our highest priority,” and the new advisory, along with other recently issued measures, will help improve safety across all rail lines.

“Over the last decade, train accidents have declined by 43 percent nationally, a result of our rigorous safety regime, but we must always do better as we drive continuous safety improvement,” said FRA Administrator Joseph Szabo.

For additional details, click here.

CARTís Cody Ponder Dies at Age 35

Cody Ponder, assistant transportation director for Cleveland Area Rapid Transit (CART) at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, died on Nov. 26 at age 35 following a long battle with cancer. (Norman is located in Cleveland County.)

Ponder joined CART in 2006 and was promoted earlier this year from planner and grants specialist to his current position. Ponder was very involved in the Oklahoma Transit Association (OTA). In 2011, he was named to the “40 Under 40” list of emerging public transit leaders published by Mass Transit magazine.

“Cody was a beloved member of the OTA family. His hard work and dedication was a testimony to his outstanding character,” said OTA President Jeannie McMillin, director of Little Dixie Transit. “To be around him, one never knew he was in a fight for his life. His engaging personality belied the cancer he was battling.”

2013: THE YEAR IN PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION

Public Transit Milestones in 2013: Month by Month: Landmark Anniversaries, Ground Breakings, Assistance in Emergencies

Here’s an overview of key milestones observed in 2013 by ­public transportation agencies and businesses, as they appeared in Passenger Transport.

January
DOT Secretary Ray LaHood visited Sacramento, CA, on Jan. 7 to present a $135 million Full Funding Grant Agreement to the Sacramento Regional Transit District to extend the agency’s light rail system.

The London Underground (the Tube), the oldest subway operation in the world, celebrated the 150th anniversary of its opening on Jan. 9. The original service was called the Metropolitan Railway, operating between Paddington and Farringdon.

Valley Metro in Phoenix broke ground Jan. 12 for its Northwest Phoenix light rail extension. Service on the 3.2-mile line extension is scheduled to begin in late 2015 or early 2016.

February
On Feb. 1, the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) kicked off a year of commemoration for the centennial of Grand Central Terminal. The terminal is the flagship home of both MTA and MTA Metro-North Railroad.

The Chattanooga Area Regional Transportation Authority, Chattanooga, TN, marked the 40th anniversary of its founding.

March
VIA Metropolitan Transit, San Antonio, TX, introduced service on three battery-electric buses under the name “the Arc.” The electricity to operate the buses comes from either solar panels or turbines in West Texas wind farms.

On March 22, the Utah Transit Authority (UTA) broke ground for the Kays Crossing transit-oriented development in Layton, UT. The location is adjacent to a future FrontRunner commuter rail station.

April
MTA New York City Transit reopened a closed loop subway platform at its South Ferry Station in Lower Manhattan as renovation efforts continued on the main station, which sustained major flooding and salt water damage in Hurricane Sandy.

Long Beach Transit, Long Beach, CA, held a customer appreciation event in honor of the system’s 50th anniversary.

Seattle’s Sound Transit broke ground April 26 at the site of the future Angle Lake Station on the South 200th Link extension. The new line will provide direct service to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport when it opens in 2016.

The Capital Area Transit A­uthority, Harrisburg, PA, commemorated its 40th anniversary with a special event featuring funding partners and stakeholders.

In Philadelphia, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) launched a year’s celebration of the 100th anniversary of its Route 101 Media Trolley Line. The Philadelphia and West Chester Traction Company opened the line April 1, 1913, between Media, PA, and Philadelphia.

May
On May 3, the Cambria County Transit Authority, Johnstown, PA, broke ground for a new Operations, Maintenance, and Administration facility. The new building will replace a facility built in 1893, which is no longer sufficient for the agency’s bus operations.

Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) began construction on a streetcar project that will connect Union Station and Oak Cliff when it opens in late 2014.

Kawasaki Rail Car, part of ­Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd., marked its 25th anniversary as a permanent U.S. manufacturing facility.

June
New Flyer Industries Inc. acquired North American Bus Industries Inc. from an affiliate of Cerberus Capital Management L.P.

Sun Metro, El Paso, TX, broke ground June 19 for the Sun Metro Brio, the region’s future Bus Rapid Transit system.

July
Heavy rains and flash flooding July 8 in the Toronto region led to service disruptions for GO Transit and the Toronto Transit Commission. The flooding stopped one GO Transit train carrying approximately 1,400 passengers.

The Southern California Regional Rail Authority, operator of Metrolink commuter rail, broke ground for a new station near the Bob Hope Airport in Burbank on the Antelope Valley Line.

St. Louis Metro celebrated the 20th birthday of MetroLink light rail on July 31. On that date in 1993, the agency opened the first 14 miles of light rail.

The Metro Gold Line light rail line operated by Los Angeles Metro commemorated its 10th anniversary in ceremonies July 26 at the Del Mar Station in Pasadena.

August
On Aug. 13, DART marked the 30th anniversary of the vote that authorized its creation. The agency began ­providing service in January 1984.

Sound Transit kicked off the 10-year anniversary of the opening of Tacoma Link light rail—Aug. 22, 2003—with a contest inviting passengers to name their favorite destination along the line.

DART and the Fort Worth Transportation Authority initiated express bus service between downtown Arlington, TX, and the Trinity Railway Express commuter rail station in Fort Worth on Aug. 19. Arlington has been among the largest U.S. metropolitan areas not served by public transportation.

The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) broke ground Aug. 29 for the new ­Cermak Green Line Station, a $50 million construction project that will provide additional service to the ­McCormick Place convention center and the Near South Side.

September
Denver’s Regional Transportation District provided evacuation services for residents of Boulder, CO, affected by flooding on Sept. 12. UTA also provided vanpool vehicles for local emergency responders to use.

The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority broke ground Sept. 13 for the West Shore Express Bus Rapid Transit line.

October
CTA reopened the Red Line South Oct. 17 following a five-month shutdown of service to renovate and modernize the rail line.

New York MTA broke ground Oct. 18 for the first new MTA Staten Island Railway station since the MTA took over the rail line in 1971. The new Arthur Kill Station will replace the existing Atlantic and Nassau stations.

On Oct. 23, MTA Long Island Rail Road commemorated the centennial of its Jamaica Station with rededication ceremonies. Ten of the railroad’s 11 branches serve the station.

November
SEPTA marked the reopening of the 102-year-old Bridgeport Viaduct with ceremonies Nov. 18 at the agency’s ­Norristown Transportation Center. The viaduct was out of service for four months, during which SEPTA completed a bridge timber and replacement project on the bridge that carries the Norristown High Speed Line over the Schuylkill River.

Voters approved seven of eight public transportation measures, bringing the total number of public transit-related measures that passed in 2013 to 11 of 15, for an overall success rate of 73 percent. Many of the 2013 voter initiatives were concentrated in smaller communities, indicating public transportation’s growing importance in these areas.

December
Comprehensive, bipartisan transportation legislation enacted in Pennsylvania is projected to generate $2.3 billion a year for public transportation, highways, and bridges. The law eliminates the existing 12-cent gas tax, effective Jan. 1, 2014, and implements 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. It also makes other changes in vehicle and driver’s license fees.

General managers of public transit agencies in major U.S. cities noted the competitive edge the hotels in their cities achieve through direct rail access to an airport terminal—confirming the results of a recent APTA report. For example, CTA President Forrest Claypool called public transit “a cornerstone” of the city’s hotel industry.

APTAís Committees Tackle Issues, Identify Opportunities; Members Guide APTA's Work, from Funding to Workforce Development, Safety to Procurement

What are the major issues, challenges, and opportunities facing the public transportation industry, and how is APTA addressing them on behalf of its members?

In an industry as large and diverse as public transportation with members representing organizations of all sizes, from rural public transit agencies to multinational corporations, the answer lies in the work of APTA’s committees, composed of public transit and business member leaders and experts.

The standing committees, subcommittees, technical forums, and task forces, which number nearly 150, promote interactions and information exchanges among members and enhance APTA’s work by recommending conference agendas, policy strategies, and program enhancements.

Passenger Transport talked with the chairs of a few committees to get a sampling of the issues and challenges affecting the public transportation industry in the past year. (Other industry and APTA news appears in the 2013 Annual Report. For details, click here.)

Brief committee reports follow:

Bus and Paratransit CEOs
Since 2012 when the federal government cut funding for bus purchases and facilities, public transit systems have sought to restore the money, said Brad Miller, chief executive officer, Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority, St. Petersburg, FL, and chair of the Bus and Paratransit CEOs Committee.

“One day we all woke up, and this pot of money we relied on was gone,” Miller said. As a result, some bus systems now find it financially difficult to replace aging fleets or expand routes. “It is always difficult when there is no additional money, or if there is reduced money, in trying to do the best you can with less resources,” Miller said.

Other segments of the industry were also hard hit, he said. “Our goal is not to pit one segment of the industry against each other,” he added, but to inform the public, elected officials, and others of the “true impacts” of reduced funding.

In preparation for the upcoming MAP-21 reauthorization, the committee launched a campaign, including a letter-writing effort, to raise public and legislative awareness about the financial plight of bus systems across the country, Miller said.

Miller acknowledged that bus systems need to do better in trumpeting their value to their communities and elected officials. Committee members pledged to carry out the campaign at the local level, with the goal of highlighting what the loss means for each representative’s district. “We need to speak with one voice during the legislative process,” he added.

“Everywhere in the United States, the bus mode has the highest ridership. It’s the workhorse of our transportation system. It’s an important part of the whole network,” Miller said. “Rail systems might be the spine, but the whole network falls apart without a robust bus system.

“When you think about it, buses are taken for granted,” Miller added. “There’s so many of them. They seem to run happily down the street, and people think there’s nothing more to be discussed. But we need adequate funding to keep them rolling.”

Rail Transit
As railway systems move swiftly to modernize aging systems, the industry is under intense pressure to bring its workforce up to speed on federal requirements aimed at helping railways operate more efficiently and safely. “Training is absolutely necessary because signals and signal systems are so complex and unique,” said Paul Jablonski, who chairs the Rail Transit Committee and is the chief executive officer of the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS).

The committee has been focused on workforce development as a key concern during the past year as it works toward helping rail transit agencies develop advanced training programs in signal systems. The effort “is progressing very well,” Jablonski reported.

A consortium of about 20 public transit agencies is working on training initiatives, Jablonski said, to ensure that the industry has an adequate pipeline of skilled workers. A well-trained workforce is crucial in implementing the myriad of federal requirements intended to modernize the country’s rail industry. Among the consortium’s tasks is to strengthen rules and procedures aimed at enhancing the safety of employees and public transit users.

And as the industry pushes to modernize and expand, the committee is also advocating for adequate funding to keep existing rail services running smoothly, which he called a high priority. In fact, he noted that the MTS is investing $700 million to keep two of its lines in good repair, including new tracks, crossing, and signal systems.

“Everybody recognizes that we have to maintain what we’ve already built, and the federal government is appropriately saying that this should be a priority,” he said.

But it remains to be seen what level of commitment the federal government will provide as it considers reauthorizing MAP-21. “When funding is always up in the air, it creates an environment of uncertainty,” Jablonski said, noting that many programs, including New Starts projects, have already been cut by sequestration.

Commuter Rail
In any year, safety dominates the agenda of the Commuter Rail Committee. This year proved no exception.

In July, the federal government issued emergency rules that, among other things, prohibit rail cars that are carrying hazardous materials from being routinely left unattended—rules that also had implications for commuter rail agencies.

Committee Chair Matthew Tucker, executive director of the North County Transit District in Oceanside, CA, said rail systems worked quickly to comply with the rules, although many had already taken the precautions identified in the emergency order as it related to passenger service.

“There’s no doubt that there is wide support within the industry for implementing safety enhancements,” Tucker said. “We spent a tremendous amount of time focusing on safety, in terms of what we can do to support the safe operations of our systems,” he added, including ways to implement new GPS technologies, onboard vehicle safety systems, and better methods of managing train movement.

Another safety rule on the horizon is the federal government’s deadline to implement positive train control technology (PTC), and much of the committee’s work has centered on meeting the December 2015 deadline to comply with federal mandates to implement PTC.

“During the vast majority of our meetings, the hot topic was the status of railroads, both public and private, in implementing positive train controls and the challenges associated with that,” he said.

The committee receives regular updates on spectrum acquisition and the recent tower approval challenges raised by the Federal Communications Commission’s Office of Native Affairs and Policy and has discussions with FCC staff on their role in navigating obstacles to implementation.

The committee also has had presentations on possible back-office solutions to support the systems rolled out by smaller operators. Further, as a committee, the Commuter Rail CEOs meet twice a year with FRA Administrator Joseph Szabo or his deputy to discuss PTC and the myriad regulatory directives.

“We’re focused on meeting the mandates and the deadlines, and we’ve been working really hard as an industry,” he said. But various issues, including funding and the complexities and availability of technology, could prompt the industry to ask for a deadline extension.

High-Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail
The High-Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail Committee is a step closer to launching a study on the potential ­economic benefits of expanding the country’s high-speed rail (HSR) system.

“The study is meant to justify the investment of public funds . . . . When you request money, you have to identify what the benefits are,” said David Kutrosky, the managing director of ­California’s Capitol Corridor Joint ­Powers Authority, and committee chair.

The committee recently finalized a scope of work for the study, which Kutrosky hopes will be completed ahead of congressional hearings to consider reauthorizing the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act (PRIIA), which expired in October.
The study is expected to cost between $250,000 and $500,000 and could take six to nine months to complete, Kutrosky said. “Right now, we’re in fundraising mode,” he said.

The committee hopes that the study will provide data to help sway Capitol Hill by demonstrating that HSR will create jobs, increase tax revenues, and spur development near railway stations and other transportation hubs.

But even with favorable data, Kutrosky acknowledged that the program could remain a hard sell in Congress. “This would not only require a new funding source, but it would also require an act of Congress. They’re cutting food stamps right now, so you can imagine how difficult this will be,” he said.

Kutrosky and other rail advocates nevertheless hope HSR will gain traction. “We have to look under every seat cushion for our pennies and nickels to make this happen,” he said.

The committee also worked on 22 legislative principles for MAP-21 reauthorization, which APTA’s Legislative Committee and Board of Directors recently approved.

The committee is represented by Norman Forde, associate, senior project manager at STV, on the International Union of Railways’ planning committee for the 9th World Congress on High-Speed Rail in July 2015.

In other committee news, Kutrosky convened a meeting of the “Corridor Coalition” at APTA’s 2013 Rail Conference with representatives from the California High-Speed Rail Authority, Capitol Corridor, and DOTs in Michigan, Texas, and Connecticut.

Business Member Board of Governors
The message from the Business Member Board of Governors (BMBG) continues to be straightforward: Public transit means business.

It’s more than a slogan, said Angela Iannuzziello, vice president, Canada National Transit Market Sector Lead, AECOM, who chairs the BMBG.

“When we’re talking about transit, it’s not just the service that we deliver to customers directly, but it’s also about the entire supply chain—the bus manufacturers, the rail manufacturers, and the suppliers,” Iannuzziello said. “The business part of transit also means incredible jobs.”

Because of the uncertainty over government funding, the BMBG has been exploring how to make it easier for the private sector to develop new financing models that will keep public transit projects moving.

That could mean greater use of public-private partnerships, she said, including having businesses take the lead by fronting the financing that might be needed to greenlight a project that would otherwise remain stalled until dedicated public funding becomes available.

“As federal funding continues to decline, we have to think about how to continue funding our projects, and how the private sector’s role in financing can be enhanced,” she said. “Within current government regulations, it’s actually very difficult to implement some private-sector financing,” she added. “So we need to figure out how to remove some of those barriers, but it is a very complicated issue.”

Another area of discussion has been on workforce development, especially the need to attract young people to disciplines that could benefit the public transportation industry. One area in particular, Iannuzziello said, is rail ­engineering. The BMBG is supporting the industry in developing partnerships with educational institutions to establish programs to help train the next generation of industry professionals.

The BMBG also focused on building the business case for public transportation, new safety regulations, transparency in the procurement process, Buy America, sustainability, international issues, and the Affordable Care Act, among other issues.

Marketing and Communications
The Marketing and Communications Committee is preparing to roll out a branding effort to increase appreciation for the value of public transportation, locally and nationally.

“One of our goals is to continue to demonstrate the value of communications as a strategic priority for our organizations,” said Jennifer Kalczuk, committee chair and external relations manager for the Interurban Transit Partnership (The Rapid), Grand Rapids, MI.

“With more and more agencies having to rely on some sort of local funding, it’s really important that we are in communication not only with our riders but with the broader community so people understand the value that transit brings to their communities.”

The committee has focused on helping marketing teams get resources and educational opportunities to help them evaluate trends and implement new technologies and best practices.

Meanwhile, the committee is encouraging more public transit agencies to embrace technologies to better serve and engage riders, including smart cards, mobile apps, and online trip planning.

“We need to be able stay relevant to our current customers and attract new ones by creating new communication tools that fit their lifestyles,” Kalczuk said. She said these tools are especially important to understanding how to attract Millennials as riders and advocates for public transportation, the subject of a recent APTA report, ­Millennials & Mobility: Understanding the Millennial Mindset. “They want options. They want to live in places that have good transit and good walkability,” she said. “Having tools that really work with their lifestyle is going to be really important.”

In the coming year, the committee will roll out an education and outreach campaign, which will be an integrated, multi-faceted effort featuring high-impact public relations, social media, grassroots outreach, and advertising templates for members to use locally. APTA will also conduct Washington, DC-based and targeted national advertising.

The campaign is designed to educate policymakers, opinion leaders, and the general public about the importance of public transportation. Original research underpins the campaign’s messages.

Technology
In the face of accelerating changes in technology, the Research and Technology Committee continues to refine its strategic plan, which takes a broader view of public transit.

Wireless communications loomed large, as the industry increasingly relies on wireless technology. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which regulates the country’s airwaves, has been front and center in the rail industry’s compliance with federally required positive train control (PTC), said committee Chair Jon McDonald, vice president, business sector manager, transit and rail, Atkins.

McDonald said the industry could need an additional three years to fully implement the requirements, including deploying new radio systems on 22,000 locomotives and constructing 20,000 antennas along the tens of thousands of miles of railroad tracks. “It’s a pretty substantial set of issues,” he said.

Further, the FCC has declined to reallocate wireless spectrum for PTC, saying that rail systems are responsible for purchasing their own radio bandwidths. That could be a challenge, McDonald said, because there might not be enough affordable bandwidth to go around.

Wireless spectrum is also an issue for bus companies as they develop wireless mobile communication networks. Issues related to the 5.9 megahertz spectrum allocated to enable the connected vehicle program are of concern to the industry.

“If you think about it, a bus has become this huge high-tech device,” said Angela Miller, director of programs at Cubic Transportation Systems, San Diego, and chair of the Committee for Emerging Technology and Innovation.

Innovations in fare collections, smart phone services, and onboard communications systems have put pressure on public transit agencies to acquire more of the radio frequencies required to relay an increasing amount of data. Bus systems also require wireless technology to maintain communications between operations centers and vehicles on the road.

“We’ve tried to make the case that public transit has a public safety component. . . . We can’t function as an industry if we aren’t allocated spectrum,” Miller said.

Meanwhile, the technology-related committees are helping agencies modernize many services, including developing procurement criteria public transit systems can use to help evaluate whether they should invest in new technology.

Sustainability
Public transit agencies and businesses are doing and achieving more as sustainable organizations, said Kevin Desmond, general manager, King County Metro Transit, Seattle, and immediate past chair of the Sustainability Committee.

By embracing sustainability initiatives, the industry demonstrates its commitment to good planning and protecting the environment. “We want to show that we walk the talk,” he said. “Public transit intrinsically helps to create more livable communities and helps reduce a community’s energy footprints by offering transportation choices where people don’t have to drive,” he said. “Sustainability brings back value to the taxpayer dollar; it brings back value to the investment your community is ­making in your public transit system.”

He noted that 115 agency and business members have signed on to APTA’s Sustainability Commitment since the 2012 Annual Meeting. While Desmond considers this a key milestone, “the goal is to have everybody sign on,” he said.

This past year, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority was the first public transit agency to reach platinum status among the signatories. In all, 17 agency and business members have earned higher recognition—bronze, silver, or gold status—an increase of nine agencies over 2012.

In addition, Desmond noted, the committee is working to communicate the value of sustainability to an agency’s bottom line and so formed a cross-committee partnership with the Marketing and Communications Committee, which they launched at the Annual Meeting with presentations and sessions. The goal is to develop messages that address public transit’s financial value, which agencies can use at the local level.

Other key activities include the following:

The Sustainability and Urban Design Standards group released Best Practices for Integrating Art into Capital Projects, and additional sustainability standards are under development, including tools to measure and display emissions reductions and lay out a path for calculating economic and social sustainability. Further, the Sustainability Steering Committee oversaw the development of documents recognizing the connection between sustainability and a well-­maintained and funded system.


How to Join a Committee
Committee membership is open to all public transit board members and management personnel of all APTA member organizations.

Any APTA member may apply to a committee (except for those designated as by appointment only) by submitting the Committee Interest Form. For details, click here.

In Memoriam 2013: Saluting Public Transportation Professionals

During the past year, the public transit community said goodbye to industry leaders, members of the APTA Hall of Fame, the first executive director of APTA, and a senator who was a longtime friend of the industry.

Here is how they were remembered in the pages of Passenger Transport, in chronological order of their deaths.

Raymond V. Lanman, 68, vice president, corporate development, for Herzog Transit Services in St. Joseph, MO, died Dec. 4, 2012.

Philip Anderson, 64, a member of the Denver Regional Transportation District Board of Directors from 1993-97, died Dec. 20, 2012.

Hiram Walker, 75, a 33-year employee of FTA and its predecessor, the Urban Mass Transit Administration (UMTA), died Jan. 6. Walker joined UMTA in 1971 and retired from FTA in 2005.

Ann Linnertz, FTA administrator for administration since 2006, died Jan. 26. She began her career at DOT in 1980 as a presidential management intern at FHWA.

Julian Burke, 85, chief executive officer of Los Angeles Metro from 1997 to 2001, died March 30.

Laurrie Brown, 65, a 40-year public transportation professional who worked since 2008 as director of operations for the San Joaquin Regional Transit District, Stockton, CA, died May 4. Brown joined the agency in 2005 as director of transportation and a member of the executive team.

B.R. (Bill) Stokes, 89, first executive director of APTA and a former general manager of the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District, died May 15. Stokes headed APTA from its founding in 1974 to 1980, and was inducted into the APTA Hall of Fame in 1996.

John Stokowski, 59, director of program development for the Greater Peoria Mass Transit District, Peoria, IL, died May 23.

Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), 89, a longtime advocate for public trans­portation, died June 3. At the time of his death, Lautenberg chaired the Senate Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety, and Security. Prior to interment at Arlington National Cemetery, the senator’s body was placed on an Amtrak train at the New Jersey Transit Corporation commuter rail station that bears his name in Secaucus, NJ.

Jean-Claude Ziv, 63, a public transit researcher and writer, died May 27. Ziv was project manager, development, for Veolia Transport in Paris at the time of his death.

Susan Kupferman, 54, senior advisor to the chairman of the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority, died June 26.

Michael Winter, a disability advocate since the 1960s and longtime DOT employee, died July 11.

Richard Dahl, 55, general manager of the North County Transit District’s Sprinter rail operation for Veolia Transportation in Escondido, CA, died July 15.

Wayne Gilles, 48, a ­public transit safety and security expert with CH2M HILL in Los Angeles, died June 25.

Simon Bartlett, 49, a public transit system engineering expert who worked for CH2M HILL in New Jersey, died June 28.

Patrick McMahan, 83, one of the founders of Community Transit, ­Snohomish County, WA, died Aug. 23.

Dennis D. Louwerse, 68, 30-year executive director and chief executive officer of the Berks Area Regional Transportation Authority, Reading, PA, died Sept. 5.

Col. Erland A. Tillman, 101, a member of the APTA Hall of Fame who began a 28-year career in public transportation engineering following his retirement from the U.S. Army, died Sept. 6.

Joseph Frank Garbacz, 97, former deputy chief of design and construction with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, died Sept. 23.

Ronald Kirby, 69, director of transportation planning with the Metropolitan ­Washington Council of Governments, died Nov. 11.

Public Transportation in 2013: A Look Back in Pictures

 

 

The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority opened its new Transit Training Facility.

Port Authority executives entered the Brookfield Place Pavilion from the newly opened World Trade Center West Concourse pedestrian transit connection.

 

 

A MetroRapid North-South bus prepared to enter service on the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority's rapid bus line in Tampa, FL.

The inaugural Grand Opening Express prepared to break through a banner as Denver's Regional Transportation District launched W Line service.

 

 

Chicago Transit Authority officials and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel greeted riders on opening day of the rebuilt Red Line.

New Jersey Transit Corporation's Atlantic City Rail Line arrived at the Pennsauken Transit Center on opening day.

 

 

The Fort Worth Transportation Authority and community leaders cut the ribbon to open the Sierra Vista Transit Plaza.

The Minnesota Valley Transit Authority, Burnsville, MN, joined the city of Rosemount, MN, to open the new Rosemount Transit Station.

 

 

Crowds lined up to board the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority's first VelociRFTA Bus Rapid Transit vehicle.

Crowds disembarked from the Utah Transit Authority's Airport TRAX light rail on the first day of service.

 

 

The Kansas City Area Transportation Authority partnered with the Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, KS, to open the KCK Midtown MetroCenter.

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority opened the Four Corners Commuter Rail Station and commemorated improvements along the Fairmount Commuter Rail Line.

 

 

Opening-day crowds welcomed VIA Primo, the new Bus Rapid Transit service in San Antonio, TX.

Salem-Keizer Transit, Salem, OR, opened its sustainable designed Keizer Transit Center featuring rain gardens and native plants.

 

 

Riders at the Cedar Grove (MN) Transit Station awaited the Metro Transit Red Line bus on the first day of BRT service,

The Regional Transit Authority in New Orleans opened the Loyola Avenue/UPT Streetcar Line with help from the St. Augustine High School Purple Knights Marching 100 Band.

 

 

Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY), center, toured BAE Systems HybriDrive® Solutions' new facility in Endicott, NY.

Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-IN), left, visited Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems LLC's production facility in Huntington, IN.

 

 

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, center, spoke with Dan Morrill, right, founder and president, Midwest Bus, during a tour of the company's facility in Owosso, MI.

Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-NC), right, toured IMPulse NC LLC's facility in Mount Olive, NC, with President Jeffrey Wharton.

 

 

APTA Chair Peter Varga, center, chief executive officer of The Rapid, Grand Rapids, MI, accepted the 2013 APTA Outstanding Public Transportation System Achievement Award for mid-size systems. APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy was on hand.

Photos represent a sample of public transportation's 2013 highlights.

 

Representatives of Philadelphia's Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority received the 2013 Grand Champion Award at the Bus and Paratransit Conference.

SEPTA rail rodeo team members accepted the International Rail Rodeo Grand Champion Award at the 2013 Rail Conference.

 

 

APTA MEMBER PROFILE

Meet Ann Warner!

Ann Warner
Managing Partner
Ann Warner LLC
Member, Authorization Task Force, BMBG Government Affairs, Legislative, Policy and Planning, and Public-Private Partnerships committees


How many people are employed at your agency?

Ann Warner LLC advocates for public transportation, aviation, and infrastructure projects and programs on behalf of state, municipal, and private-sector clients. The company, which is DBE certified, is purposely small, bringing together teams of government relations and communications consultants for specific needs. Additionally, the firm enjoys a strategic partnership with Total Spectrum, which gives us access to a robust and highly successful team of experts who provide their clients with tailored services and measurable achievements in public policy and advocacy.

How long have you worked in the public transportation industry?

I count my experience in public transportation by the number of surface transportation authorization and annual appropriation measures I’ve worked on. My first authorization bill was the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA). I’ve successfully advocated for policy and funding initiatives during each of the three subsequent surface transportation laws.

Since funding is the industry’s lifeblood, I’ve worked for more than two decades with colleagues to help obtain the highest possible funding levels in appropriations bills. In addition, I have advocated for approval of and funding for specific public transportation projects and worked to identify alternative funding sources and enhanced project delivery incentives.

On behalf of a corporate client, I initiated and mobilized industry support for the Public Private Partnership (PPP) Pilot Program in SAFETEA-LU. This program encouraged five New Start projects to utilize innovative project delivery methods.

How long have you been an APTA member?

I’ve been actively involved in APTA since 2002. Earlier this year Ann Warner LLC became an APTA member. In addition to my participation in APTA committees, I am also a member of the Washington Area Transit Industry Representatives.

What drew you to a career in public transportation?

Public infrastructure is in my blood. In the 1930s, my grandfather launched his own business in Denver selling windmills to pump water. The company still supplies drinking water and sewer utility products to municipalities in several Western states.

My involvement in transportation began in 1990 when I was director of government relations for the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association (IBTTA). I experienced several “firsts,” including IBTAA’s in-house government affairs program and provisions in SAFETEA-LU that allowed toll revenues to be combined with federal funds and promoted the use of electronic toll collection.

I subsequently served as vice president of government affairs with the Airports Council International-North America (ACI-NA). I helped secure record-level funding for the Airport Improvement Program and advocated for an increase in passenger facility charges while supporting airport capital programs, notably at Denver.

I developed a passion for transportation and helping bring projects to life, which requires aligning funding, financing, political commitment, stakeholder support, technical expertise, environmental compliance, and internal and external education and communication. My multimodal experience was enhanced further after ACI-NA. I held similar positions in the corporate world, where I supported major transportation projects, including the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Extension, New York East Side Access, and Portland Light Rail/Cascade Station Development.

What have you found to be the most valuable APTA benefit or resource?

APTA offers its members numerous opportunities to network, share knowledge on, and advocate for technical, financial, community, legal, legislative, and regulatory issues.

Please explain why or how this has helped.

My clients have benefited from participating in APTA on many levels. I facilitated a client’s presentation at an APTA conference on PPPs. For another conference, I helped arrange for a corporate client to present on sustainability.

What do you like most about your job?

I really enjoy helping clients achieve their goals. I especially like getting outside the Beltway and doing site visits. I get so much from speaking with the planners, engineers, and constructors who do the work. Interacting with federal, state and local officials, and community stakeholders is inspiring. Without their vision and leadership, most projects would never get built.

What is unique about your organization? What would readers be surprised to learn?

I’m a very detail-oriented person and tend to get into the weeds, which helps me identify potential policy issues that have real-world implications, recommend solutions, figure out an integrated strategy, and map-out the decision-makers in FTA, on Capitol Hill, or in the industry who need to be educated.

Make sure you see Ann Warner's video, now that you've read this!

MEET THE APTA STAFF

Meet Virginia Miller!

Virginia Miller
Director, Media Relations
Communications and Marketing

What are the top job elements you focus on the most?

As director of media relations, I work with the media, respond to media calls, and pitch stories. One of the things I do every quarter is release the ridership report. But before I approach the media to work on a ridership story I always go out to public information officers (PIOs) at APTA’s member agencies to ask for the local context behind the numbers. This way, I can offer reporters a good local story to cover. I love working with the national media to get out the good news about public transportation to millions of people.

I’ve been reaching out to PIOs since the third quarter of 2005 when gas prices spiked at $3 a gallon for the first time, and we started to see more people taking public transit. It was also when vehicle miles traveled dropped for the first time since the 1970s. That was the beginning of a shift when we started to get good stories in the national media about public transit ridership.

In 2006, I started National Dump the Pump Day, which has been a great success around the country and allows member agencies to showcase their systems. A few years ago, I reached out to the Sierra Club and the National Resources Defense Council to be partners. These partnerships helps advance our environmental message: taking public transportation is a great way to help and protect the environment.

I’m also in charge of the APTA Awards program, which spotlights the best of the best in our industry at both individual and system levels. The program is our Oscars, and the winners are our stars.

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

I contact our members on a regular basis. Sometimes members will send me a reporter who needs a national perspective on a story, and sometimes I reach out to a PIO to include a local perspective in a national story.

For example, on Veterans Day this year, I contacted some systems I knew had terrific veterans outreach programs. I was able to place a story on CNN's website featuring Denver RTD that focused on the message that individuals with military experience have skills that are highly transferrable to our industry.

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

I’m really proud of helping to create a media relations community for the industry. When I first arrived at APTA, the top media people at various agencies didn’t know each other. So as I was starting to know the PIOs, I began connecting them to each other. We also developed a strong media relations track at the Marketing and Communications Workshop. At the 2011 workshop, I put together the first national transit security communications program with representatives from the Department of  Homeland Security, TSA, FTA, and PIOs from three large systems—BART, MARTA, and TriRail—to develop mock scenarios
of terrorist attacks and understand how federal and agency responses would be coordinated and executed. It was an eye-opener for everyone in the room.

I really enjoy contacting the PIOs, connecting them and helping to create a solid, national community of media professionals who know each other professionally and personally. There’s a wonderful synergy. It’s great to see the PIOs collaborating and sharing their best practices.

How did you land at APTA? How long have you worked here?
I heard about the job through the grapevine. I had the idea that I wanted to be in the public transit industry when I left the Clinton administration (I was a political appointee), but I didn’t come here right away. I’ve been with APTA for 10 years.

Have you held other jobs in the public transportation industry besides working at APTA?

I’ve never had another job in public transit, but I have worked in transportation. After I graduated from Smith College, my first transportation job was with AAA New Hampshire. I was the spokesperson and lobbyist, representing 100,000 members—about 10 percent of the state’s population. My first job in DC was at the Technology Administration at the Department of Commerce. I was the government spokesperson for a presidential initiative called the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles—a PPP among the federal government and the three domestic carmakers to develop hybrid and fuel-cell technologies to develop a car that would go the equivalent of 80 miles per gallon.

Then I went to the FHWA where I worked on highway issues including safety and Boston’s Big Dig. I eventually became the head of the public affairs department and traveled with then-DOT Secretary Rodney Slater.

What professional affiliations do you have?

I’m a member of WTS and the Public Relations Society of America.

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

I was one of the original paid staff for then-Gov. Bill Clinton’s presidential primary campaign in 1991 in New Hampshire. I was in charge of canvassing and field operations for Nashua, the state’s second largest city.

Make sure you see Virginia Miller's video, now that you've read this!

APTA NEWS

Business Leaders Gather in January; Funding and Workforce Needs on the Agenda

Authorization, workforce development, and procurement, among other issues, are the central topics at APTA’s Business Members Board of Governors upcoming meeting, Jan. 22-24 in Del Mar, CA. The meeting, the first of the year for the BMBG, is open to all business members.

“In addition to the critical issue of authorization, we will also focus on the need for entry-level engineers to staff our companies in the future, procurement issues that support a healthy business environment, and comprehensive finance initiatives that support a greater private-sector role in financing transportation projects in our communities,” said Angela Iannuzziello, BMBG chair and vice president, Canada National Transit Market Sector Lead, AECOM. “Plans for EXPO 2014 will also be on our agenda,” she said, encouraging all APTA business members to attend and participate.

In addition, five public transit agency general managers will participate in a CEO Roundtable to discuss issues, challenges, and opportunities facing their public transit systems and focus on private-sector partnerships and opportunities to collaborate.

They are Stephen Banta, chief executive officer of Valley Metro, Phoenix, AZ; Darrell Johnson, chief executive officer, Orange County Transportation Authority, Orange, CA; Matthew Tucker, executive director, North County Transit District, Oceanside, CA; Kenneth McDonald, president and chief executive officer, Long Beach Transit, CA; and Paul Jablonski, chief executive officer, San Diego Metropolitan Transit System, CA.

Other guest speakers include Janet Kavinoky, executive director, transportation and infrastructure at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and vice president, Americans for Transportation Mobility Coalition, and Jeff Loveng, principal and chief executive officer, Vandor Strategies. APTA staff will review the association’s recommendations for reauthorization, communications and advocacy plan for 2014, and the latest research on engaging millennials as public transportation riders and advocates.

For details, click here.

APTA Adopts New Member Policy on Standards of Business Practice

APTA's Executive Committee recently adopted a Standards of Business Practice policy. The policy is aimed at ensuring that APTA meetings and conferences remain forums for spirited, respectful debate. The text follows:

“APTA is intended as a forum for the public transportation industry, as a whole, to consider, advocate, share information, and reach consensus wherever possible on the issues facing the industry. To effectively accomplish this purpose, members must be free to voice their opinions without threat of disparagement, mockery, or derision.

“APTA members are expected to treat each other and the Association’s invited guests with dignity and respect in any Association forum, whether a conference session, committee meeting, or other.

“While differences of opinion and advocacy for those differing opinions is encouraged, personal attacks, insults, or debasement of others shall not be tolerated.

“Disruption of APTA events shall not be tolerated.

“APTA members are expected to communicate with and enforce this code of conduct among their employees, board members, or other representatives at APTA events and will be deemed responsible for the conduct of those representatives for purposes of this policy.

“In addition to sanctions contemplated under Article V.E of the APTA bylaws, the Association reserves the right to impose such intermediate sanctions on members or individuals as deemed necessary to achieve the purpose of this policy.”

AROUND THE INDUSTRY

NJ Transit Issues Super Pass For the Super Bowl

New Jersey Transit Corporation is issuing Super Pass, a commemorative unlimited ride pass that will help Super Bowl XLVIII fans easily travel among events throughout Super Bowl Week. The NFL and the New York-New Jersey Super Bowl Host Committee have designated NJ Transit as the lead public transportation agency for the mega-event.

“NJ Transit is ready to welcome the legions of Super Bowl visitors to the Garden State, and we look forward to providing them with a safe, efficient, and comfortable transportation experience across our system,” said Executive Director James Weinstein.

To support the anticipated spike in ridership, NJ Transit is finalizing plans that will provide convenient service throughout Super Bowl Week, including recruiting, training, and deploying more than 800 NJ Transit Employee Ambassadors across the system during the week-long event.

In addition, the agency is completing improvements at the Frank R. Lautenberg train station in Secaucus (the closest station to the stadium) to support Super Bowl-related operations as well as events following the game, including rail platform extensions to permit the use of longer, higher-capacity trains. A new bus service area will also triple bus capacity, which will further enhance Meadowlands-area bus operations.

Super Bowl Week is expected to attract more than 400,000 fans and visitors to the New York/New Jersey metropolitan region, infusing an estimated $550 million into the region’s economy.

“Our Super Pass will provide significant savings for those travelling to and from Newark Liberty Airport as well as for customers planning to attend Super Bowl events,” said NJ DOT Commissioner and NJ Transit Board Chairman James Simpson.

WMATA Presents Accessibility Awards

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) recently presented its second annual Accessibility Excellence Awards to individuals and organizations that make the public transit system in the nation’s capital accessible to everyone. The authority’s Accessibility Advisory Committee and Department of Access Services hosted the event.

The late Michael A. Winter, former director of FTA’s Office of Civil Rights and a pioneer in the independent living movement, posthumously received the Richard W. Heddinger Award, named for the first chair of the WMATA Accessibility Advisory Committee.

Easter Seals Project ACTION received the Dr. Rosalyn Simon Award for industry professionals, named after an international expert in disability issues and the Americans with Disabilities Act. The nonprofit organization has provides technical assistance, applied research, outreach, and communication to promote universal accessibility to public transit.

WMATA also honored 36 employees representing several departments.

“These awards reinforce the fact that ‘it takes a village’ to create accessibility, and the partners who make this happen include but extend far beyond accessibility professionals and organizations,” said Christian T. Kent, assistant general manager of access services, who established the awards program last year.

Cubic Acquires Sercoís Transport Solutions Business

Cubic Corporation has completed the acquisition of Serco’s Transport Solutions business for an enterprise value of £43.5 million ($70 million) subject to adjustment as set forth in the purchase agreement.

Serco’s Transport Solutions business is primarily a United Kingdom-based transport technology and services business, with revenues in the last calendar year of approximately £42 million ($67 million). It will become a part of Cubic Transportation Systems.

For more than 20 years, Serco’s Transport Solutions business has specialized in the development and supply of traffic management systems for the monitoring and control of urban and intraurban road networks, encompassing integrated traffic and incident management, decision support, bus tracking, and passenger information through integrated user interfaces.

The business also provides safety camera and associated back office solutions, as well as capability for the installation and maintenance of intelligent transport systems and equipment, such as maintaining over a third of London’s traffic lights.

L.A. Metro Gold Line Bridge Wins Industry Awards

The Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority, the agency responsible for constructing the extension of the Los Angeles Metro Gold Line, received five distinguished industry awards this year for its Gold Line Bridge. This 584-linear foot structure is the first completed element of the 11.5-mile light rail extension between Pasadena and Azusa, linking the current terminus at the Sierra Madre Villa Station in Pasadena and the station under construction in downtown Arcadia, CA.

The bridge received these honors: Engineering News-Record, Best Project in Southern California, Highways/Bridges; American Council of Engineering Companies, 2013 Engineering Achievement Award; Construction Management Association of America, 2013 Project Achievement Award; Western Council of Construction Consumers, Distinguished Project Award; and American Society of Civil Engineers, Outstanding Public Civil Engineering Project, Transportation Over $10 Million.

“It’s an honor to receive these awards, and to be recognized in the engineering and construction industry for the Gold Line Bridge,” said Habib F. Balian, chief executive officer of the authority. “The bridge is being recognized for not only its artistic beauty, but also the challenges that were overcome to design and build the bridge over an active freeway and an earthquake fault.”

The Gold Line Bridge is the state’s first-ever artist-designed transit bridge and the largest single public art/transit infrastructure project in California. Public artist Andrew Leicester created the design for the $18.6 million project, then worked with Skanska USA and AECOM during final design and construction.

Agencies Give Rail Cars a Facelift

Beauty isn’t only skin-deep. Two public transit agencies are renovating their rail cars as part of extensive projects to modernize interiors, make energy improvements, and strengthen security, among other upgrades.

The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA), OH, recently unveiled renovations to cars on its heavy rail Red Line. All 40 cars on the line will eventually get interior facelifts to complement recently completed exterior work.

The budget for the interior work is $3.5 million and will take about two years to complete. GCRTA employees are handling all the work for the project, using only materials that are Buy America compliant. Improvements include the following:

• LED lighting, which replaces fluorescent lighting;
• Upgraded seat frames and seats;
• Energy-efficient windows;
• Refurbished and painted interior panels;
• New flooring and sub-flooring, with fire-retardant state-of-the-art materials;
• Expanded space for ADA passengers, bicycles, strollers, and shopping carts; and
• Updated maps, graphics, and signage.

The Port Authority Transit Corporation (PATCO), Lindenwold, NJ, also unveiled the first of its refurbished commuter cars in a project that is expected to cost about $194 million (with about $70 million funded with federal money) and be completed in fall 2016. Some 120 cars are scheduled for the overhaul.

Last year, PATCO separated several cars from their undercarriages and trucked them to an Alstom assembly facility in Hornell, NY, where they were stripped down and rebuilt from the outside in.

“Our first cars have come home for the holidays, and they look great,” said PATCO General Manager John Rink. “They’re bright, spacious, gleaming, and furnished with new equipment that promises to make PATCO travel more comfortable, reliable, and secure than ever.”

The project is PATCO’s largest rolling-stock capital expenditure and one of the largest capital improvement projects in the history of the Delaware River Port Authority, which operates the agency.

The rebuilt cars include:

• Brighter colors, higher ceilings, slip resistant floors, and new seats;
• New heating and air conditioning systems;
• Additional accessible seating;
• New passenger alarm and public address systems;
• Interior security cameras connected to an externally accessible DVR; and
• New brakes, which allow for power conservation.

New interiors on Cleveland's RTA Red Line.

PATCO's commuter rail cars are being rebuilt, from the outside in.

Freeze the Keys on New Yearís Eve


Valley Metro and Coors Light have partnered to provide Phoenix-area residents and visitors with free public transit service on the agency’s light rail and bus routes when they ring in the New Year. Announcing the program are, second from left, Raj Kandyil, general manager, MillerCoors; Bubba Moffett, president, Crescent Crown Distributing; Greg Stanton, Phoenix mayor; Mark Mitchell, Tempe mayor; and Trinity Donovan, Chandler city councilmember and Valley Metro Board of Directors vice chair. Coors Light representatives are pictured in the light-colored jackets. The program is supported by Valley Metro’s member agencies, the Arizona Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, state elected officials and local law enforcement, and Crescent Crown Distributing. “Valley Metro is an important part of many local celebrations as we provide safe, reliable transportation to and from events,” said Steve Banta, Valley Metro chief executive officer. “This free ride partnership with Coors Light serves as a rider benefit and allows us to extend our reach as a safe travel option.”

European Rail Congress Presents Awards to APTA Members

The London Underground, SNCF in Paris, and the international firm Bombardier Transportation were among the recipients of the inaugural European Rail Congress Awards recently presented in London.

The European Rail Congress aims to reward and encourage European railway excellence and innovation. The winners of each of the 19 award categories were selected by a panel of members of the European Parliament from Belgium, Estonia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom.

London Underground received the European Metro Operator of the Year for its record-breaking ridership, service delivery, customer satisfaction, and excess journey time reductions.

SNCF received two awards: European Regional Operator of the Year for its Mulhouse tram-train, which provides seamless commuter travel options for accessing the city and intermodal connections, and Excellence in Marketing for its “Selling the Dream with the ticket initiative.” Voyages-sncf.com has formed partnerships with music venue Olympia, the French rugby league, and Guide Michelin, leading to increased traffic to the partner organizations.

Bombardier Transportation took the Excellence in Technology award for its FLEXX Tronic WAKO system in Switzerland. Flexx Tronic Wako is an active mechatronic tilting/roll compensation system, developed with cooperation from Liebherr, that allows double-deck trains in particular to run faster on curves.

Riverside Driver Rescues Man from Fall onto Train Tracks

Longtime bus operator Ted ­Jenkins was on his way home from work recently when he spotted a wheelchair on the side of a busy road, a few feet away from railroad tracks that slice through the city. As he looked down the tracks and saw a man’s body, he heard the sound of an approaching train.

“It was getting really dark out,” said ­Jenkins, a 24-year operator with the ­Riverside Transit Agency (RTA), Riverside, CA. “So I just started moving fast toward this guy who was laying there on his back just a few feet away from the tracks. I started calling out to him and he moved around a little bit and that was a good sign.” He pulled the man away from the tracks, called 911, and waited in the dark for paramedics.

The man on the tracks was Joseph Larry, a frequent RTA customer whom Jenkins actually knew as a passenger.

After Larry returned home from the hospital, Jenkins went to visit—having ridden an RTA bus to Larry’s house.

Larry credited Jenkins with saving his life. “I could have been hit by a train or just died out there in the dark,” he said. “RTA has a good man working for them. He’s a true hero.”

RTA Chairman Marion Ashley also applauded Jenkins’ heroism: “We are privileged to have Mr. Jenkins work for us for more than 20 years. He has always been a first-class employee, and this is just another example of him going above and beyond the call of duty.”

Joseph Larry, seated, credits RTA Coach Operator Ted Jenkins with saving his life.

 

Engineering Firm Receives Awards

Projects overseen by Sam Schwartz Engineering (SSE) recently received honors from the ­American ­Council of Engineering ­Companies (ACEC) New York and other organizations.

ACEC New York honored SSE’s Aruba Tram and Transit Consulting Services project with a Diamond Award at its 2014 Engineering Excellence Awards Competition, along with a Platinum Award for the Spring Garden Street ­Greenway in Philadelphia; Gold Awards for the Liberty State Park Circulator in New Jersey and the Second Avenue Subway Community Information Center in Manhattan; and a Silver Award for the “Steps to a Walkable Community” guide.

The Aruba Tram, now in operation, transports riders 2.6 kilometers from the Oranjestad cruise ship terminal, along the length of Main Street, and back to the terminal. The project also has been selected as one of the finalists to represent New York in ACEC’s national competition.

SSE also received the 2013 ZweigWhite Hot Firm Award, which recognizes the 100 fastest-growing architecture, engineering, planning, and environmental consulting firms in the U.S. and Canada. This is the firm’s fifth appearance on the list.

In addition, Inc. magazine recognized SSE on its 2013 500/5000 List of the Fastest Growing Private Companies, which tracks percentage and dollar growth across all sectors. The company placed 65 among the top 100 engineering companies and achieved 51 percent growth over three years ending in 2012.

Metrolinkís New Grant Promotes Safety Awareness on Railways

The California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) recently awarded a $61,325 grant to the Southern California Regional Rail Authority (Metrolink), Los Angeles, CA, for a year-long campaign to promote public safety awareness on railroads.

Metrolink is conducting the campaign in collaboration with California Operation Lifesaver (CAOL) and with the support of OTS.

“It is absolutely tragic to witness and experience the largely avoidable incidents along the tracks caused primarily by distracted pedestrians and drivers,” said Michael P. DePallo, Metrolink chief executive officer. “With the support of the California Office of Traffic Safety, Metrolink and its partners will continue striving to make people more aware of the ­dangers of unsafe behaviors on or near the tracks.”

Metrolink will use the funding as part of an ongoing commitment to keep roadways and rail crossings safe through safety education, information, and enforcement.

The grant will fund various activities, including:

* increasing the number of CAOL authorized volunteer presenters throughout the state;
* conducting a public safety conference in Southern California with stakeholders regarding safety at crossings; and
* working with communities and community leaders concerning issues that address safety at railroad highway grade crossing and rights-of-way.

Funding for this program is from the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Des Moines Station Certified LEED Platinum

DART Central Station, the primary transfer location for Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority (DART) buses in downtown Des Moines, IL, has been certified LEED Platinum, the highest certification of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Rating System of the U.S. Green Building Council.

“Building the station sustainably was good not only for the environment, but also for customers,” said DART General Manager Elizabeth Presutti. “By spending less of our limited operating budget on water and electricity, we were able to spend more on staffing to better serve the people who visit the station.”

The facility achieved certification through sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection, and indoor environmental quality. For example:

* 24 percent of construction materials were recycled;
* 28 percent of the materials were manufactured regionally;
* 70 geothermal wells help with heating and cooling;
* 23,100 kilowatt-hours of energy have been generated since the center opened by rooftop photovoltaic panels, a savings of 39,274 pounds of carbon dioxide; and
* 1.2 million gallons of rainwater have been captured, cleaned, and reused in place of potable water since opening for tasks such as washing bus platforms—63 percent of total water used.

The station opened in November 2012, replacing the former Walnut Street Transit Mall. Passenger amenities include climate-controlled waiting areas, covered loading platforms, a bicycle storage room, and a coffeehouse.

Other LEED Platinum certified public transit facilities in the U.S. include the Emil “Lucky” Reznik Administration, Maintenance and Operations Facility, operated by the South Bend Public Transportation Corporation, South Bend, IN, and an Orange County Transportation Authority facility in Anaheim, CA, scheduled to open in 2014.

Scouts on Board with Public Transit

Two public transit agencies have partnered with their local scout troops to help young people learn about public transportation.

The Franklin Transit Authority (FTA), Franklin, TN, joined with the Girl Scout Middle Tennessee Council to create a transportation patch program that teaches the young girls about alternative forms of transportation, including public transit.

“This initiative is especially important as, locally and nationally, women make up a larger share of transit riders,” said FTA Chairman Preston Elliott. “Having the knowledge, understanding, and confidence of using public transportation is a value that will serve these young individuals for years to come.”

Houston’s Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County recently hosted more than 20 Boy and Cub Scouts in the Railroading Merit Badge Course to learn the ABCs of rail safety.

“The METRO Light Rail Safety Merit Badge Course is a fun and interactive way to educate Scouts about the basics of rail safety through Operation Lifesaver, as well as introduce them to light rail operations and the role of rail in public transit,” said Walter Heinrich, rail safety manager. “We have a program that takes Girl Scouts through the rail safety program and are delighted to help boys learn these important concepts through Scouts.”

Clever Devices Recognized Among Tech Companies

Clever Devices has ranked as one of the 500 fastest-growing technology, media, telecommunications, life sciences, and clean technology companies in North America on Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500™.

Frank Ingrassia, president and chief executive officer of Clever Devices, noted that more than 300 North American public transit systems use the company’s technology.

Deloitte LLP determines the rankings based on percentage fiscal year revenue growth from 2008 to 2012. Overall, this year’s honorees achieved revenue growth ranging from 137 percent to 208,897 percent during that period, with an average growth of 2,600 percent. Clever Devices grew 173 percent.

Visions of the Season on Public Transit



 

Valley Metro in Phoenix is contributing this "gingerbread" bus as a collection site for donations to its Teens in Need Holiday Drive. All items collected in the bus will be donated to a nonprofit youth center and the agency will match every donation with an all-day transit pass in support of other youth services. Valley Metro is partnering with Tempe Marketplace to host this program. "The collection drive is our way of extending our appreciation to riders and the communities we serve," said Valley Metro CEO Steve Banta.

Omnitrans, San Bernardino, CA, filled a bus with new, unwrapped toys for underserved children in the community, donated by area residents and businesses through the Spark of Love Toy Drive. The agency held the Dec. 6 event in partnership with California Firefighters and a local television station.

For the 23rd year, Santa Claus arrived in Philadelphia via the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority. Santa boarded the Market-Frankford Line at the Frankford Transportation Center and traveled to 11th Street Station, after which he led hundreds of children to The Gallery at Market East shopping mall.

The Port Authority of Allegheny County, along with the U.S. Marine Corps and a radio station, collected new, unwrapped toys and cash donations for Toys for Tots the morning of Dec. 13 at the Steel Plaza T Station in downtown Pittsburgh.

Cincinnati Metro riders who arrived at Government Square Dec. 4 between 3 and 4 p.m. received an early Christmas present when Metro employees and Bicycle Santa gave out free single-ride Metro tickets. This gesture is one way the agency thanks its customers for riding its buses all year long.

The North County Transit District, Oceanside, CA, brought Santa, Mrs. Claus, and the Grinch on board a full Coaster commuter train Dec. 7 for the annual Holiday Express event. Approximately 700 children and their families took the 90-minute ride, which departed from the Oceanside Transit Center.

St. Louis Metro Dedicates Artwork

St. Louis Metro recently installed a 12-foot-high stainless steel sculpture, “Spring Forth,” at its Union Station, which “celebrates the new vitality that MetroLink brings to the urban center and the entire St. Louis area,” said sculptor Jim Gallucci. The agency also recently dedicated artwork at its Rock Road MetroLink Station in a partnership with Beyond Housing, a St. Louis-based community development organization supporting low-income families. The interactive work, titled “We Are Listening,” is constructed from wooden panels and features messages from residents and riders.

COMMENTARY

Americaís Infrastructure Crisis Isnít Overstated

BY BRIAN PALLASCH, ASCE, AND JANET KAVINOKY, U.S. Chamber of Commerce

When a doctor tells you that you are sick, you should probably stay home. When a contractor tells you that your roof is caving in, you should probably move out. When the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) tells our country that our infrastructure rates a D+, you should probably ask how we can raise the grade.

The 2013 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure was released earlier this year, highlighting our country’s infrastructure needs. Due to a growing backlog of infrastructure projects, by the year 2020, United States infrastructure needs face a funding shortfall of $1.6 trillion.

James Pethokoukis, a conservative blogger for the American Enterprise Institute, wrote a post that argued that American infrastructure is doing just fine. In fact, he argues three points to make his case:

1) Our public investment is equal to “peer” nations, as thus, adequate,
2) Public construction spending has been the same since 1993, and
3) Private industry can solve all of these problems alone.

The argument that since our ­public investment is on par with Canada, ­Germany, and Australia, and that we should be unconcerned, is only valid if all of these counties share similar issues and similar history.

Most of America’s infrastructure was built after WWII. These investments of the 20th century spurred our nation’s economic boom and made us a global power. Today, quite simply, that tab is coming due. ­Australia currently spends 2.4 percent of GDP on capital investment, compared to 0.60 percent by the U.S.

Canada’s federal government investment in infrastructure is approximately 2.9 percent of GDP. And though our percentages of GDP spent on infrastructure are indeed comparable to Germany, in 2011 Germany adopted a five-year, $52 billion federal Framework Investment Plan for infrastructure. The question facing our country is are we going to maintain our 20th century foundation while making new investments for a prosperous 21st century. This is a unique challenge. America’s economy must lead the world, and as such, the foundation of that economy—our infrastructure—should lead the way.

If we are going to build a sustainable infrastructure network for the 21st century, we also should not take pride in the fact that our investments are unchanged from 1993. Imagine living on the salary you made in 1993 today. Our economy and our nation have both grown since then. The fact that we have maintained the same level of construction spending should serve as a wakeup call to our leaders that we are not doing enough. Roads, bridges, and water systems only cost more to repair and maintain the longer we wait.

In addition to the obvious costs of inaction, our aging infrastructure’s effects on our economy continue to grow. In preparation for their Report Card, ASCE conducted a series of economic analyses to see the effects our ailing infrastructure has on businesses and families. ASCE found that if our country continues on our current investment path between now and 2020, the U.S. will lose:

$3.1 trillion in GDP, almost the equivalent of Germany’s entire GDP
$1.1 trillion in U.S. trade value, equivalent to Mexico’s GDP
3.5 million jobs, more than the jobs created by the America Recovery and Reinvestment Act
$2.4 trillion in consumer spending, comparable to Brazil’s GDP
$3,100 in annual personal disposable income

Given these impacts, it is easy to see that America is already paying for its D+ infrastructure system. Investment would create long-term jobs, spur growth, and increase America’s standing in the global economy.

Some of this investment will undoubtedly come from the private sector. Private investment is an essential part of repairing America’s infrastructure. We are seeing public-private partnerships help businesses and families alike, such as the 495 Express Lanes in the D.C. area. Yet, as one can see, the size and scope of our problems are massive. The private sector can’t do it alone. ­During the 20th century, the federal government led the way in building our nation’s greatest infrastructure systems, from the New Deal programs to the Interstate Highway System and the Clean Water Act. Since that time, federal leadership has decreased, and the condition of the nation’s infrastructure has suffered.

We need a strong national vision to fix our ailing infrastructure. Long-term planning, combined with long-term funding, will allow our communities to plan for the future and face the challenges of an ever-changing economy.

We agree that infrastructure is an underpriced commodity. Too often, our roads, pipes, and waterways are out-of-sight, out-of-mind. We must embrace the reforms put forth in MAP-21 and the Water Resources Reform and Development Act that will increase efficiencies, cut red-tape, and deliver projects faster.

For the U.S. economy to be the most competitive in the world, we need a modernized infrastructure system to support it. No one disagrees with the notion that we must invest as efficiently and intelligently as possible, but the only way of being able to ever do so is by acknowledging the breadth and costs of the problem at hand.

Pallasch, CAE, is managing director, government relations and infrastructure initiatives, American Society of Civil Engineers, and Kavinoky is executive director, transportation and infrastructure, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and vice president, Americans for Transportation Mobility Coalition.

© 2013 American Society of Civil Engineers. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.

This “Commentary” section features different points of view from various sources to enhance readers’ broad awareness of themes and views that affect public transportation.

PEOPLE ON THE MOVE

Who's Doing What in the Industry

Joseph Costello
CHICAGO, IL—Joseph Costello has announced that he will retire as executive director of the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) at the end of February. He has served the agency for almost two decades.

Costello joined the RTA in 1995 as chief financial officer and was promoted to the top post in 2010.

He is a designated transit system member director on the APTA Board of Directors and a member of the Finance Committee, Commuter Rail CEOs Subcommittee, Financial Management Committee, Legislative Committee, and Rail Transit CEOs Subcommittee.

Also, Costello serves on the Government Finance Officers Association Executive Board and is a founding member of the Transit Finance Leadership Exchange, a national consortium of finance directors of major public transportation agencies committed to improving transit and finance leadership.

Keith Carlson
LA CROSSE, WI—Keith Carlson, manager of the La Crosse Municipal Transit Utility (MTU) since 1989, will retire on Dec. 30 after a 33-year career at the agency.

Carlson, a native of La Crosse, started at MTU as a bus driver in 1980. He was promoted to assistant manager in 1985, and subsequently named manager. During his tenure, he oversaw the construction of the $30 ­million Grand River Station, MTU’s transit hub; expanded service into three surrounding communities in two states (in addition to La Crosse) and to three area universities; and an increase in annual ridership.

Carlson is past vice chair of the ­Wisconsin Urban and Rural Transit Association. For APTA, he was a member of the Small Operations Committee. Keith Lee, currently MTU operations manager, will serve as the agency’s interim manager.

John D. Porcari
WASHINGTON, DC—DOT Deputy Secretary John D. ­Porcari is stepping down from his post before the end of the year and will join ­Parsons ­Brinckerhoff (PB) as senior vice president and national director of ­strategic consulting, based in the firm’s ­Washington office.

As the head of PB’s strategic consulting group, Porcari will guide the firm’s efforts to integrate technical expertise with strategic thinking needed by owners, developers, and operators of transportation infrastructure to solve critical business and operational problems and establish the foundation for successful delivery of programs and projects.

Porcari served as DOT deputy secretary since 2009 and was secretary of Maryland DOT for two terms, 1999-2003 and 2007-2009. He has been a frequent speaker at APTA conferences.

FHWA Administrator Victor Mendez will serve as acting deputy.