Passenger Transport - March 8, 2014
(Print All Articles)

NEWS HEADLINES

President’s FY 2015 Budget Includes $302 Billion, Four-Year Reauthorization

DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx described the $90.9 billion ­budget for DOT in Fiscal Year 2015 released by President Obama on March 4 as “the kind of aggressive transportation budget our country needs—one that replenishes the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) today while also helping ensure the country has a safe, efficient transportation system for tomorrow.”

The centerpiece of the transportation budget is a four-year, $302 billion surface transportation authorization proposal that provides $72.3 billion for public transportation over that period and $17.6 billion in FY 2015, compared with $10.8 billion enacted in FY 2014. The $17.6 billion figure includes almost $14 billion for transit formula grants, compared with $8.6 billion last year, and $2.5 billion for capital investment grants, up from $1.9 billion in the previous year’s enacted budget.

FRA would receive $19 billion over four years under the proposed budget, almost $5 billion of that amount in FY 2015. In contrast, enacted levels in FY 2014 totaled $1.6 billion. The proposed increases include two new programs classified as the National High-Performance Rail System: $2.5 billion to restore passenger rail assets to a state of good repair and $2.3 billion to develop high-performance passenger rail networks throughout the U.S.

The four-year proposal would provide sufficient funds to ensure the solvency of the HTF and Mass Transit Account during the authorization period to prevent the shortfall projected to occur later this year; expand the competitive, multimodal grant program that builds on the successful TIGER program and provide credit assistance through an enhanced Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) program; and provide $4 billion for Fixing and Accelerating Surface Transportation, a competitive program to improve transportation outcomes. It also includes $6.7 billion for highway safety efforts and $199 billion for roads and bridges.

APTA released a statement in support of the proposed FY 2015 budget “for increasing investment in transportation and for recognizing the need to address the imminent shortfall in the Highway Trust Fund and the Mass Transit Account before the current transportation legislation (MAP-21) expires on Sept. 30.”

The statement continued: “We are pleased to see an increase for critical public transportation infrastructure investments that will create jobs and boost economic development in our communities and our country. We also commend the administration for its continued funding commitment to passenger rail, including high performance rail networks. APTA is committed to working with the Administration and Congress to pass a long-term, well-funded, multimodal surface transportation bill and to establish a dedicated Trust Fund mechanism that ensures the long-term sustainability of federal surface transportation programs.”

Find more budget highlights by clicking here. The full text of the APTA statement is available here.

Melaniphy: ‘We Are Encouraged by Recent Revenue Proposals’; Testifies Before Senate Banking Committee


In testimony March 6 before the Senate Banking Committee, APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy called on Congress to act quickly to solve the current funding challenges in the Highway Trust Fund and Mass Transit Account, which DOT warns could result in reimbursement delays or reductions to public transit agencies and state highway departments. In addition, he said “We are encouraged by recent revenue proposals from both President Obama and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Camp to ensure the continued health of the Highway Trust Fund and sustained federal investment in transportation, but we are also concerned about the ability to advance these proposals in a timely manner.” Find his testimony here.

APTA Members Washington, Bass Testify Before House T&I Panel


James M. Bass, left, interim executive director and chief financial officer, Texas DOT, and Phillip Washington, general manager of Denver’s Regional Transportation District and APTA vice chair, testified March 5 before the Panel on Public-Private Partnerships (P3) of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Washington spoke about the importance of P3s in his agency’s ongoing FasTracks expansion program. Bass described the various ways Texas can use partnerships to support transportation construction efforts. Rep. John J. Duncan Jr. (R-TN) chairs the panel.

Photo by Steve Barrett

APTA’s Plan to Authorize Next Surface Transportation Bill Focus of Hill Agenda; Plan Is Result of Industrywide Collaboration

APTA’s blueprint for authorizing the next surface transportation bill includes a wide range of recommendations on such topics as tax incentives, credit assistance, secured loans, and other financing mechanisms to federal programs; formula, capital investment, and state of good repair grants; and workforce development and training, among many other areas.

Overall, APTA is calling on Congress to authorize $100.4 billion from Fiscal Year 2015 to FY 2020 (cumulatively) to fund public transportation, and to increase the current annual funding level of $10.7 billion to $22.2 billion in FY 2020.

The recommendations, at the center of APTA’s legislative advocacy program for the next several months, are the result of a comprehensive initiative to develop in-depth guidance for Congress to consider before MAP-21 expires on Sept. 30.

The year-long process was led by the 125-member Authorization Task Force and its five co-chairs working under the guidance of the Legislative Committee. The recommendations, approved by the Board of Directors, reflect the “consensus views and priorities of APTA’s diverse membership,” states the report, APTA’s Surface Transportation Authorization Recommendations.

“Investment in a national transportation network has been a federal responsibility since the founding of the Republic, and is recognized in the Constitution and through the authorization of such signature projects as the National Road, the transcontinental railroad, and the Interstate Highway System. America grows, her people prosper, and our nation’s international standing is secured when the federal government invests in infrastructure,” the report continues. “Authorization of the federal surface transportation program must reaffirm the federal role and further a vision that directs policy and sets the foundation to respond to new challenges for the coming decades.”

The extensive recommendations are based on 14 key principles, which follow:

1. Authorize a federal public transportation program that provides predictable funding for no less than six years to accommodate the development of long-term, major capital investments needed to bring existing public transportation infrastructure and facilities into a state of good repair; expand current infrastructure investments; support the operation and maintenance of these investments; and support research, training and policy to meet growing demand for safe, convenient, and dependable service;

2. Establish a dedicated Trust Fund funding mechanism that supplements existing dedicated revenues to ensure the long-term sustainability of growing federal public transportation and highway programs through and beyond the next long-term authorization bill;

3. Preserve existing dedicated revenues that go to the Mass Transit Account of the Highway Trust Fund and increase revenues to the Mass Transit Account which are dedicated to the federal public transportation program;

4. Preserve a strong federal program for public transportation and oppose efforts to devolve existing federal surface transportation programs;

5. Create funding resources and programs that support growing investment in intercity and high-speed passenger rail in a way that complements efforts to increase investment in public transit and other surface transportation needs;

6. Preserve and enhance current state and local flexibility under federal surface transportation programs funded by the Highway Trust Fund;

7. Sufficient flexibility or discretion must be provided in the distribution of funds to address capital needs that are not adequately funded under formula programs;

8. Authorize a consistent federal match ratio for all federal transportation capital programs;

9. Encourage innovative financing mechanisms to supplement, not supplant, transit grant funding at the federal level, including tax incentives, private sector investment and public private financing. Create opportunities for public-private partnerships and remove barriers to their use in order to capture the potential contribution of the private sector to infrastructure investment;

10. Incentivize state and local investment to supplement federal funding for capital investment needs and operating assistance to meet growing demands for service;

11. Transportation research, standards, technical assistance, and workforce development provide essential contributions to the efficiency and effectiveness of our nation’s transportation systems. Authorize increased funding to support greater investment in research and development programs that maximize efficiency for public transportation systems, and to better address workforce development needs at transit systems and businesses that provide goods and services to the industry;

12. Streamline the transportation project delivery process, including planning and environmental work, to reduce delays and costs associated with delays and harmonize federal regulations for all surface transportation modes, including transit, rail, and highways;

13. Preserve and ensure the consideration of public transportation alternatives within a multimodal regional and statewide planning process, which is designed to achieve sustainable outcomes in plans, programs, and projects. There should be a balance of environmental, economic, and social equity objectives in the process;

14. Promote policies to ensure sufficient resources, including shared responsibility for coordination between human services and transportation agencies, to serve the mobility needs of our nation’s seniors, veterans, and people with disabilities and others who require alternatives to traditional public transportation service.

To download a PDF of the report, visit the APTA website and click on the MAP-21 Resource Center button.

T&I Leaders Address Lee Issues: MAP-21, HTF Solvency, Project Timing on Agenda

The current legislative year is shaping up to be one of the busiest—and most important—in recent years for public trans­portation, as the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee tackles a range of issues, from the authorization of a surface transportation bill to the long-term solvency of the ­Highway Trust Fund and its Mass Transit Account.

Passenger Transport recently had the opportunity to pose several questions to Rep. Bill Shuster, chair of the T&I Committee, and Rep. Nick Rahall, the committee’s ranking member, in advance of APTA’s Legislative Conference, March 9-11. Their comments follow.

MAP-21 expires in a few months. Based on your unique leadership position and knowledge of transportation in the U.S., how would you rate the overall success of ­MAP-21 as a blueprint for the federal role in funding ­public transportation and highways, and in advancing regulatory change?

Shuster: The strength of our transportation infrastructure has a direct impact on the health of our economy, competitiveness, and prosperity. MAP-21 made some important reforms to the federal surface transportation programs. For example, streamlining the transportation project delivery process made a lot of sense because of the simple fact that the longer projects take, the more they cost. We need to maximize the impact of each dollar going into our transportation infrastructure, and ensuring more reasonable project times helps us to do that.

MAP-21 made other necessary reforms as well, such as program consolidation. However, remember that MAP-21 is less than two years old, so we still need to make sure that U.S. DOT is implementing the law’s reforms as Congress intended.

MAP-21 maintained the long-standing federal role in providing a cohesive national infrastructure, and one of my principles for the next bill is to build upon the work done in MAP-21.

Rahall: MAP-21 provided a lifeline to keep highways, bridges, transit systems, and safety efforts alive for two years. In the next bill, Congress has a responsibility to reaffirm the strong federal leadership role in surface transportation, shore up the Highway Trust Fund, and make badly needed investments to bring our infrastructure into the 21st century.

If we neglect to do so, even the most comprehensive policy reforms won’t help to revive our crumbling infrastructure.

Public transit policy experts estimate that the Mass Transit Account of the Highway Trust Fund will be nearly out of money by September 2014. What long-term solutions do each of you envision for funding public transportation and restoring solvency to the trust fund? What’s likely to work at the federal level, fiscally and politically?

Shuster: The Highway Trust Fund has worked well historically as a means of funding the federal surface transportation programs, but transportation stakeholders and policymakers understand that we have to address the trust fund’s long-term solvency issues.

I don’t have all the answers and each idea will have its challenges. However, as the committee continues to develop the next bill, I plan to continue listening to all ideas and work with my colleagues on the Ways and Means Committee, in the House, and in the Senate to look for solutions.

Rahall: Since passage of MAP-21, I believe that there has been a growing realization about the magnitude of the Highway Trust Fund’s budgetary challenges on both sides of the aisle. The Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has historically been the most bipartisan committee in Congress, and I’m confident that we can work together to avoid a crisis.

Honestly, there are no easy answers here because there is no solution to the problem that will please everyone. However, I do believe a consensus will emerge as we move this issue forward.

What is your thinking on improvements that the next bill can make in terms of project delivery and overall program efficiency? What role do you see innovation and technology playing in this regard?

Shuster: MAP-21 took some important first steps in streamlining the project delivery process to get projects done faster. Unfortunately, there are still regulatory burdens that waste time and money. My goal is to build on the reforms in MAP-21 to bring even greater efficiencies to the project delivery process.

Innovation and technology play an important role in the development of our nation’s transportation infrastructure, and one of my goals for the next reauthorization is to promote innovation and to lay a foundation for emerging technology. Innovation and technology are additional tools that help enhance the safety and efficiency of our transportation infrastructure, which is critical when we must make every available resource count.

Rahall: States and communities deliver projects slowly for one primary reason—insufficient funds to pay for a project. During the debate on MAP-21, there was a concerted push to do away with environmental laws as a solution to expediting project delivery.

I called the proposed changes “environmental steamrolling,” and I continue to believe that reducing community input into projects is the absolute wrong way to go. I am very supportive of ways to build projects faster and more innovatively—provided that federal transportation investments are used to create and sustain good-paying jobs here at home, and not outsourced overseas.

MAP-21 covers only two years rather than the five or six years that would allow public transit agencies to make longer-term plans. Do you support a longer-term surface authorization bill, and how can transit advocates help the committee get one passed?

Shuster: As a two-year bill, MAP-21 was better than a series of short-term extensions. However, a long-term surface transportation bill is the best way to provide states and transit agencies with the necessary stability to plan projects that require multiple construction seasons.

My goal is to develop a long-term bill. Transportation stakeholders’ efforts to educate the public and other members of Congress about the economic and job creation benefits of transportation infrastructure can help build support for a long-term bill.

Rahall: Congress has the opportunity to treat MAP-21 as an anomaly and return to the model of a long-term funding bill. A long-term bill provides a level of certainty that is a must for states and communities around the country to plan more robust, more effective, more dynamic, and more innovative highway and transit projects.

With more than 10 billion transit trips taken in the U.S. annually, there is no question that transit is a fundamental part of the mobility solution. Every member of Congress would be well served to understand the unique benefits transit provides to their constituents, including commuters, veterans, and special needs populations in their communities. You, as transit advocates, are the best people to carry this message, and I encourage you to remain actively engaged.

Do you believe that there is a need to invest in intercity passenger rail, including high-speed passenger rail, as part of the nation’s transportation system, and do you have ideas about funding such investments?

Shuster: Intercity passenger rail plays an important role in our transportation network. The Transportation Committee continues to develop a passenger rail reauthorization bill that seeks opportunities for more cost-effective, innovative approaches for efficient rail service, increases competition, leverages the private sector, and streamlines the rail project delivery process.

I don’t believe that, given the nation’s many existing rail infrastructure needs and the ongoing problems with the project in California, we should be diverting our limited available resources to trying to create a nationwide high-speed rail system. We ought to focus on ensuring the infrastructure’s state of good repair for regions like the Northeast Corridor, where intercity passenger rail can work.

Rahall: I think it is critically important that we have a national rail passenger transportation system that connects major cities with rural and non-rural areas across the United States. Without Amtrak, for example, residents of 106 U.S. cities, who have no access to air service, would have to find new transportation alternatives.

The administration just released a proposal to finance passenger rail through dedicated revenues. I intend to review the president’s proposal in depth in the weeks and months ahead as we look toward reauthorization of the passenger rail and surface transportation programs.

  

About Bill Shuster
Bill Shuster (R-PA) is the chairman of the House Transportation and Infra­structure Committee, one of the largest committees in Congress, with jurisdiction over all modes of transportation, including public transit.

He has served on the T&I Committee since he was first elected to the House in 2001. He previously served as the chairman of two of the T&I’s subcommittees: Railroads, ­Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials and Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management.

Prior to being elected to Congress, Shuster worked on his family’s farm, with the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Corp., and Bandag Inc. He also owned and operated an ­automobile dealership in Pennsylvania.

About Nick Rahall
Nick J. Rahall (D-WV) is the ranking member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. As such, he has been a leader in every federal highway debate since coming to Congress when he was first elected in 1976.

He also served as a member of the House Natural Resources Committee for 34 years and was its chairman from 2007 to 2011.

Rahall is currently serving his 19th term in the House of Representatives. Before his election to Congress, he was a businessman and served as a staff aide for the late Sen. Robert C. Byrd.

FY 2015 Budget: $2.5 Billion to Expand Transit Options That Improve Access to Jobs

The Fiscal Year 2015 budget released this week by President Obama includes $2.5 billion to advance construction or completion of 26 rail, Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), and streetcar projects in 16 states. These projects, competitively funded through the FTA Capital Investment Grant Program, will create or sustain thousands of good construction-related jobs while also providing expanded transportation choices and job access in their communities.

“President Obama has laid out a bold vision for investing in 21st-century transportation infrastructure that removes barriers to success for millions of Americans while strengthening our nation’s economy today and in the future,” said DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx. “We are committed to ensuring that every American has access to the ladders of opportunity that lead to success—and access to public transportation is essential to making that happen.”

The budget includes funding recommendations for eight completely new projects and the completion of federal full funding commitments for 10 existing projects.

“Transit ridership across the United States is at its highest level in five decades, thanks in part to FTA’s successful partnerships with communities committed to expanding local transportation choices that help to revitalize neighborhoods, reduce congestion, and connect residents with jobs, education, health care, and other vital services,” said FTA Deputy Administrator Therese McMillan.

FTA’s Annual Report on Funding Recommendations for the FY2015 Capital Investment Grant Program, including links to individual project profiles, is available here.

LYNX Opens Kissimmee Station

LYNX in Orlando, FL, held ribbon-cutting ceremonies Feb. 27 for its Kissimmee Intermodal Station, constructed in partnership with FTA, Florida DOT, the city of Kissimmee, and Osceola County.

The eight-bay multimodal facility, located next to the historic Kissimmee Amtrak Station, now serves as the hub for all transit services in Osceola County. Passengers can connect with LYNX buses, Amtrak, and Greyhound. Additional connections will occur once Phase II of SunRail—Phase I opens April 30—begins serving the adjacent train station in late 2016.

“This southern transfer hub now serves as the centralized home of LYNX’s Osceola County service,” said LYNX Chief Executive Officer John M. Lewis. “The project has been a strong partnership with our friends at FTA, Florida DOT, Osceola County, and the city of Kissimmee. LYNX has spent the past few years studying our service levels here in Osceola County and look forward to the future with this spot serving as the springboard to success in the county and city.”

The facility can house five 40-foot buses and three 60-foot articulated buses. Its amenities include closed circuit television, 14 solar-lit bus shelters, and drought tolerant plants.

Funding for the project came from a $1.3 million FTA Livability Grant. 

Participants in the ribbon-cutting ceremony at LYNX’s Kissimmee Station include LYNX CEO John M. Lewis, third from right; Noranne Downs, secretary,  Florida DOT District 5, fourth from left; and FTA District 4 Administrator Yvette Taylor, fourth from right.

Metrolink Breaks Ground for Two Extensions

Local governmental agencies in the Inland Empire region of California recently broke ground for two extensions of Metrolink commuter rail service.

San Bernardino
In downtown San Bernardino, CA, Metrolink and partners broke ground for two projects: a one-mile extension of commuter rail service beginning at the historic Santa Fe Depot, and an intermodal facility where the line will terminate. Other partners in the Downtown San Bernardino ­Passenger Rail Project include FTA, San Bernardino Associated Governments (SANBAG), Omnitrans, and the city of San Bernardino.

The Santa Fe Depot, currently the end of the line for Metrolink, will undergo renovations including a new rail boarding area, with a pedestrian bridge providing safe access over the tracks. The extension will operate with double tracks.

The multimodal San Bernardino Transit Center will connect Metrolink trains with Omnitrans local bus routes and sbX Bus Rapid Transit service scheduled to begin in April. Other agencies in the region will also provide bus service to the facility, equipped with 22 bus bays and a 7,500-square-foot building.

“The San Bernardino Transit Center is a true partnership between SANBAG and Omnitrans,” said Omnitrans Chairman Alan Wapner. “For more than a decade, Omnitrans has envisioned a full-service transit center in downtown San ­Bernardino that would offer greater convenience for commuters, enhanced connectivity for the entire region, improved efficiencies for transit operations, and opportunities for economic development.”

Completion of the transit center is expected by early 2015, while the Metrolink extension and Santa Fe Depot modifications should be finished by summer 2016.

Perris Valley
The Riverside County Transportation Commission (RCTC) recently began construction of the 24-mile-long Perris Valley Metrolink Extension at a site in Riverside. The $248.3 million project will extend the current 91 Line to new stations in North Riverside, Moreno ­Valley/March Field, Downtown Perris, and South Perris/Menifee.

When the line is completed in late 2015, it will be the first expansion of the Metrolink system in terms of added mileage since 1994.

“The extension of train service from Riverside to Perris creates a critical link for Riverside County residents to reach new job centers,” said Judy Carpenter, president/chief operating officer of ­Riverside Medical Clinic and Chair of the Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce. “It also creates an opportunity to attract new businesses and employers that will have significant access to a skilled workforce.”

An artist's rendering of the San Bernardino Transit Center, a multimodal facility that will provide connections for Metrolink commuter rail and several bus systems.

Metrolink Initiates Demonstration of PTC in Commuter Service

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) joined other dignitaries at Los Angeles Union Station as Metrolink recently launched Positive Train Control (PTC) in revenue service demonstration under the authority of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) railroad.

Other dignitaries in attendance included California State Transportation Agency Deputy Secretary Chad Edison, California High Speed Rail Authority CEO Jeff Morales, Metrolink Board Chair Pat Morris, and former Metrolink Board Chair Richard Katz, along with representatives from FRA and BNSF.

“We at Metrolink are proud to partner with BNSF, the FRA, the California Transportation Commission, and others in implementing PTC in revenue service demonstration,” said Metrolink CEO Michael P. DePallo. “We still have a long way to go as we will continue to collaborate with a large number of vested parties, but this is an important milestone to observe. We truly could not have reached this point without the dedication and determination of our staff, along with the support of our Board of Directors and member agencies.”

Agency officials say that Metrolink is the first commuter railroad in the country to implement the technology, Wabtec’s Interoperable Electronic Train Management System (I-ETMS)®, and they anticipate that the system’s entire service area will be completely equipped before the Rail Safety Improvement Act deadline of December 2015.

The estimated cost for the entire operations, including expanding a communications network to support PTC, is $216.3 million. Metrolink secured funding from local, state, and federal sources.

 

Sen. Dianne Feinstein joined other dignitaries who recently gathered at Los Angeles Union Station as Metrolink launched Positive Train Control (PTC) in revenue service demonstration (RSD) under the authority of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) railroad. Other dignitaries in attendance included California State Transportation Agency Deputy Secretary Chad Edison, California High Speed Rail Authority CEO Jeff Morales, Metrolink Board Chair Pat Morris, and former Metrolink Board Chair Richard Katz, along with representatives from FRA and BNSF.

Photo courtesy of Metrolink

New Chief Executives Named

Lambert, Houston METRO
Houston’s Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (METRO) has named longtime agency employee Tom ­Lambert its president and chief executive officer on a permanent basis. He had been serving as interim president and CEO since ­January 2013.

“I’m very happy to report we have a new and permanent CEO and his name is Tom Lambert,” said METRO Board Chairman Gilbert Garcia. “Sometimes the right person for the job is right in front of you, and that is what we found.”
Lambert began his transportation career when he joined METRO in 1979. ­During his tenure, he served as police chief and the agency’s chief administrative officer before being asked to temporarily take charge of the agency.

“This is an honor. I’m excited to work with the METRO board and staff to provide transit options for this community,” Lambert said.


Graham, Omnitrans
The Omnitrans Board of Directors, San Bernardino, CA, has appointed Scott ­Graham permanent chief ­executive officer/general ­manager. He has held the ­position on an interim basis since June 2013, when Milo Victoria stepped down.

Graham joined Omnitrans in 2006 as director of operations after 12 years with the Orange County Transportation Authority, Orange, CA. Before entering the public transportation field, he spent 26 years in the U.S. Marine Corps, serving in progressively responsible positions in Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and the U.S.


Stephens, SFRTA
Jack Stephens, interim executive director, South ­Florida Regional Transportation Authority (SFRTA) in Pompano Beach, has been named to the position on a permanent basis.

Stephens served the agency as its deputy executive director since 2003. He succeeds Joseph Giulietti, who stepped down to become president of MTA Metro-North Railroad in New York City.

“The organization and staff need the stability provided by a leader they have been working with for more than a decade as we face the myriad challenges ahead of us. The right candidate was already in-house and well-known to us,” said Governing Board Chair Steven L. Abrams, also a Palm Beach County commissioner. “The seamless transition to Jack’s leadership has already begun.”

Stephens worked in a series of ­managerial positions for the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority before joining SFRTA. Before entering the ­public transit industry, he was associated with the Orleans Parish Public Schools and the Georgia Department of Offender Rehabilitation.

2014 APTA LEGISLATIVE CONFERENCE

Advocacy All-Stars Connect Business Members to Congress

BY SUSAN BERLIN, Senior Editor

APTA’s business members play a critical role in the association’s ongoing outreach effort to ­members of Congress. The new Advocacy All-Stars Challenge is designed for them.

APTA encourages its business members to reach out to members of Congress at the Legislative Conference in Washington, DC, with visits to one or more members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and to maintain the contact once they return home.

“There’s no better way to get ­Congress’ attention than by meeting with members of Congress and their staff and inviting them to your facility or to a project that you have underway,” said APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy. “This needs to be a continuous outreach. I did that at Motor Coach Industries and I saw how ­powerful it is.”

He continued: “Congress members are bombarded with dozens of issues each day. You have a product that they can feel and touch, and we want them to be able to identify where there are federal dollars being spent in their district. This is absolutely critical in the age of formula funds and no earmarks.”

Here are a few examples of APTA business members reaching out to Congress.

“We believe in the mission of ­public transportation and its impact to communities and the economy,” said Raymond Melleady, managing director, North America, for USSC Group in Exton, PA. “For our organization, outreach is about connecting the dots between public-­sector funding and private-sector jobs. The reality is that when the transit industry is provided with a long-term, stable funding source, we make long-term investments in equipment and human capital—we hire and train additional people. When funding is uncertain, capital is constrained.”

He continued: “For anyone in Congress, this message has to connect or impact their constituents. My message is always relevant to jobs or a project within their district that will improve quality of life or standards of living.”

Melleady noted that Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-PA) and other policymakers and their staff members have visited the USSC Group plant in Exton. He listed the four primary elements of a successful congressional visit to his, and for that matter to any, facility:

* Provide an overview of the industry or project you are supporting;
* Connect that industry or project vision to a specific benefit or cause relevant to the constituents of the congressman or senator;
* Define success and make the request: Be specific about what is needed (for example, funding or regulatory change) and how this will benefit constituents; and
* Follow up—send a handwritten ­letter with materials.

Cathy Connor, director of federal government affairs for Parsons ­Brinckerhoff (PB) in Washington, DC, explained that she oversees outreach efforts undertaken by the firm’s local offices.

“PB employees interact with their local members of Congress on a frequent basis,” she said. “Sometimes we meet with them to discuss their priorities and ours, or we brief them on local transportation projects. We defer to our clients. For example, PB is a project manager for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s capital improvements, so WMATA would be in charge of bringing local members of Congress to see its sites.”

Connor emphasized: “We just want members of Congress to understand the whole process of transportation planning, design, and funding. We simply want to educate the members on how the federal transit and highway program works. The other primary issue is the need for long-term, predictable, stable funding. The first thing that agencies or state DOTs cut back on when funding gets tight is planning new projects. These projects can’t proceed without the partners knowing where the money will come from two to five years down the road.” This is a particular concern for engineering firms such as PB, she added.

Unlike a manufacturer, an engineering firm does not have a plant that visitors can tour, she said. “A manufacturer may have a plant in a specific district that employs 600 or 700 people, with enormous influence and ­visibility in that district.” PB, in ­contrast, has business offices, but the client is responsible for the worksite.

Reba Malone of Reba Malone and ­Associates, San ­Antonio, TX, described how her years working for APTA business members and as a former member of the VIA Metropolitan Transit Board of ­Directors have helped her form personal connections with members of the Texas congressional delegation.

“My message to Congress is that we need funding for transit systems—I specifically focus on agencies that need buses, since I work on contract with New Flyer—so we need continued support for federal transportation funding,” Malone said. “It’s also important that these funds not be designated for any one specific thing. Big properties need money for one thing, smaller properties for something else, and suppliers for something else again.”

Malone echoed Connor’s comments about the need for guaranteed funding levels. “The money needs to be for lots of things,” she said, “and it needs to be certain enough that transit agencies can make plans. Suppliers also need to understand the bottom line so they can make plans with their transit agency partners.”

Nancy Butler, vice president of government/federal relations at AECOM, also emphasized the importance of congressional outreach. “We try to make contact with the committees that are most important to us,” she explained, including an ad hoc committee examining public-private partnerships.

“At AECOM, we try to be a thought leader to members of Congress,” Butler said. “We might share feedback over coffee with congressional leaders, and we participate in the stakeholder meetings hosted by Rep. Earl ­Blumenauer (D-OR).”
The company’s priorities for Congress include passage of a six-year authorization bill rather than a shorter-term bill and strategies to deal with the possible funding shortfall of the Highway Trust Fund. “We need the bill—a long-term bill—but we also need to be flexible, to look at new ways of doing things,” ­Butler added.

Joel Abraman, director of government relations and director of sales, eastern U.S., with New Flyer, noted that both Sens. Al Franken (D-MN) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) have visited the bus manufacturer’s plants in Minnesota.

“We’re always promoting the number of jobs we provide in Minnesota,” ­Abraman said. “We also want to see a ­stable, long-term federal authorization bill in place with increased funding for bus purchases—the number of transit buses sold each year remains static although demand has increased.”

For more information about APTA’s Advocacy All-Stars program, contact Christian Richards.

Partners Share Priorities for Next Surface Transportation Bill

BY JORDAN SMITH, APTA Communications and Marketing

The next surface transportation bill is increasingly at the center of attention on Capitol Hill. APTA asked some of its partners to share their plans for passing legislation that helps keep public transportation in the United States up and running. Here are their responses to the following question:

APTA’s top legislative priority is to pass a multi-year, multimodal surface transportation bill that will fund public transit commensurate with its needs and value to the nation. What is your organization’s top legislative priority related to MAP-21 reauthorization, and what role does cross-organizational collaboration play in your legislative agenda?

Mary Fallin
Governor, Oklahoma
2013-14 Chair, National Governors Association

There is bipartisan consensus among governors that surface transportation requires both a long-term vision and funding stability to provide for our nation’s diverse mobility needs. It also requires an intergovernmental partnership and increased flexibility for states.

The structural deficit in the federal Highway Trust Fund, worsening congestion, rapidly expanding freight movement and resulting delays, and concerns about assuring rural access and connectivity make it imperative that leaders at all levels of government work together to develop and deliver fresh solutions.

The National Governors Association is open to collaborative opportunities with national organizations that have similar policy objectives on surface transportation reauthorization provided those opportunities complement our bipartisan policy agenda.

Janet Kavinoky
Executive Director, Transportation & Infrastructure, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Vice President, Americans for Transportation Mobility Coalition

The Chamber’s top priority is securing predictable, reliable, and growing revenue source(s) that support a long-term bill that supports long-term planning and capital investment.

Given the magnitude of this challenge, without cooperation across all organizations the goal will be elusive.

Jim Philipps
Media Relations Manager
National Association of Counties

One of NACo’s 2014 legislative priorities is to support county priorities in the reauthorization of MAP-21. Those county priorities include funding for locally owned roads and bridges, reforms that strengthen the role of counties in transportation planning and federal funding allocation processes, and policies that expedite project delivery. However, what’s most vital to our membership is that Congress passes a multi-year (more than two years) surface transportation bill that provides long-term certainty and increases funding for transportation infrastructure.

When it makes sense, we collaborate closely with our partners at other state and local government and transportation organizations.

There are definitely priorities that we share with our partners and when we are aligned; our joint advocacy efforts yield a much stronger and more effective voice.

Industry Creates New Messaging, Modern Look To Advocate for Increased Funding; Launches First Ever Nationwide Digital Grassroots Campaign

BY MANTILL WILLIAMS, Director-Advocacy Communications

Tapping into a new trend that identifies public transportation as a key ingredient for a multimodal lifestyle, the public transit industry will launch an integrated outreach campaign featuring new messaging, brochures, and a booklet to promote the industry’s funding needs, a grassroots digital outreach initiative, and new research-based advertising creative materials. The campaign will debut March 10 at the APTA Legislative Conference in ­Washington, DC.

The campaign, “Where Public Transportation Goes, Community Grows,” has two overarching goals: to broaden support and show the value of public transportation in local communities and throughout the country and to create a favorable environment for increased investment in ­public transportation as MAP-21 expires on Sept. 30.

“We are excited about this new campaign because it emphasizes a broader way of thinking about public transportation that is aspirational, modern, forward-looking, and versatile,” said Jennifer Kalczuk, external relations manager of The Rapid in Grand Rapids, MI, and chair of APTA’s Marketing & Communications Committee. “It is research-based with a strong emphasis on taking advantage of the latest digital outreach technology.”

The campaign emphasizes direct communications with national and local policymakers while building a strong advocate base of public transit riders, supporters, and other stakeholders. It also features an integrated outreach effort with emphasis on public relations efforts, advertising, grassroots outreach, and social media tools.

The campaign focuses on mobilizing a broad coalition of industry supporters such as APTA members, public transit board members, riders, local and national organizations, and community leaders to take action in support of public transportation.

A New Way to Talk about Public Transportation
APTA recently conducted nationwide research to test potential messages with 1,000 influencers from the ­general public.
The study showed that most influencers are favorable toward public transportation. In addition, a majority also supported tax dollars going toward public transportation improvement and increasing current spending levels.

The messages that resonated the most strongly emphasized public transportation powering community growth while driving economic development and revitalizing neighborhoods. The message that stood out among all others was “Where Public Transportation Goes, Community Grows,” which became the theme of the campaign.

In the survey, messages that emphasized public transportation impacting community growth dramatically increased favorability toward public transportation. Favorability increased from an already strong level of support at 56 percent to an even greater rate of 70 percent.

“The messages for the overall campaign were developed with member input every step of the way,” ­Kalczuk said. “Members are so excited that we have already seen a number of them place the ads with these messages on their agency Facebook pages as well as making plans to incorporate them into their overall outreach efforts.”

To assist members in spreading the message, the campaign provides three new ad executions to members and supporters that depict how public transportation serves as a catalyst to community growth through supporting small businesses, as well as providing families access to all that a community has to offer.

After APTA launches the campaign, it will work with industry marketing and communications professionals to implement the ­program locally.

Grassroots Outreach
Also as a part of the campaign, APTA launched a grassroots effort called “Voices for Public Transit” to empower public transportation supporters and influencers in the community. “Voices” uses advanced data-driven campaign strategies to identify, engage, and mobilize high-value public transit ­advocates—those who have taken one or more actions on behalf of promoting their interest in public transportation.

The goal of “Voices” is to build a national base of bipartisan grassroots support for comprehensive public transportation and infrastructure investment. The program employs micro-targeted display digital advertising, e-mail, and social media.

APTA has recruited more than 30,000 advocates after a three-month pilot program, with advocates in all states of the continental U.S. As a part of this effort, APTA has created a “Voices for Public Transit” section on publictransportation.org,  located on the advocacy tab of the site.

Working Together, We Can Create a National Movement
This campaign is APTA member-driven and has been previewed with presentations at the Transit CEOs Seminar, Business Member Board of Governors, and the Marketing & Communications Workshop. Further, APTA staff and members plan to make similar presentations at the Legislative Committee meeting, Bus & Paratransit Conference, Rail Conference, state association meetings, the Transit Board Members and Board Support Seminar, Annual Meeting & EXPO, and to coalition partners. In addition, APTA has conducted two webinars for public transit marketing professionals that explain the campaign and describe how public transit agencies and APTA member businesses can participate in it.

“We are sending out a call to action to all members, riders, and supporters,” Kalczuk said. “If we are successful in leveraging our collective voices, public transit will garner increased funding and support in communities all across America. The momentum and the ­public support is on our side; now is the time for us to act.”


Gearing Up for Advocacy
All APTA members can get involved in the new national advocacy education campaign, “Where Public Transportation Goes, Community Grows,” by using the tools on a special web page.

The page describes all the ways public transit agencies and businesses can ­participate. Find the tools by following four easy steps:

1.  Go to the APTA website and click on “For Members.”
2.  Click on “Advocacy & Outreach” in the menu on the left.
3.  Open the link “Where Public Transportation Goes, Community Grows.”
4.  Access dozens of ready-to-use resources, from campaign messages and the logo to ad templates you can customize for local markets, and materials about ­authorization, including brochures, palm cards, and booklets.
The web page also includes suggestions for participating in the campaign and helpful links to the online community of public transportation advocates called “Voices for Public Transportation” and the campaign-related Facebook and Twitter accounts.

This advocacy education campaign, led by APTA’s Marketing & Communications and Legislative committees, features new ways to position public transportation as a catalyst for helping communities grow. For more information, contact Mantill Williams.

Every Penny Counts: A Brief History of HTF’s Funding from Motor Fuel Taxes

Passenger Transport has created a timeline that tracks key milestones in the history of the motor-fuels tax, more commonly called the gasoline tax, and the diesel fuel tax, both of which partially fund the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) and its Mass ­Transit Account (MTA). The timeline does not track other revenue sources for public ­transportation.

The gas tax has remained at 18.4 cents per gallon of motor fuel since 1993, with the MTA share at 2.86 cents per gallon. The diesel fuel tax—also unchanged from 1993—is 24.4 cents per gallon, with the MTA share also at 2.86 cents. There were no significant changes to either tax from 1959 to 1983. The legislation governing each tax is the same.

APTA MEMBER PROFILE

Meet Sharon Greene!

Sharon Greene
Senior Vice President and Director, Finance Market Sector
HDR | Sharon Greene + Associates
Laguna Beach, CA
Co-Chair, Authorization Task Force
Past Chair and Current Member, BMBG
Past Member, APTA Board of Directors and Executive Committee
Member, Legislative, Policy and Planning, Public-Private Partnerships committees; Governance Task Force

How many people are employed at your organization?
Sharon Greene + Associates was acquired by HDR in July 2013, and so we are now known as HDR | Sharon Greene + Associates.

HDR is a global, employee-owned firm that provides consulting, engineering, architecture, construction, and related services in support of infrastructure development. It has more than 8,500 professionals in more than 190 locations. Our client-focused approach and valuing the contributions of each employee are two of HDR’s defining characteristics.

How long have you worked in the public transportation industry?
I have worked in public transportation since 1978. After I graduated from college, I was fortunate to have two initial work experiences—both of which were well-timed in terms of the then-developing environmental ­movement and the growing attention to public transportation as an alternative to highway utilization.

One of these experiences was as a junior-level planner on the Boston Transportation Planning Review (BTPR), a major study of transportation alternatives within the Route 128 Beltway around ­Boston. BTPR changed the face of transportation in that city and opened my eyes to a world I didn’t even know existed! This experience, the contacts I made, and the examples of leadership I saw led me to graduate school where I focused on public finance and city and regional planning at Harvard.

One bit of irony—when I was an undergraduate in college, I lived with the problem of taking a bus into Boston with direct service that stopped at 7 p.m. Little did I anticipate that decades later, I would be leading HDR’s work in developing the financial plan to extend the MBTA Red Line to provide rail ­service for future students and residents.

What have you found to be the most valuable APTA benefit or resource?
For me, it’s a combination of things—especially access to and involvement in ­shaping transportation and transit policy (which APTA does so effectively) and networking support, which increases our effectiveness as an industry and as individuals.

Initially when I became active in APTA, I focused on improving my own understanding of planning issues—I participated as a listener. After joining the Business Member Board of Governors (BMBG), I became increasingly aware of the importance and power of networking. In my time with the BMBG, business members became increasingly involved in government affairs and policy issues. I was heavily involved in fostering those efforts.

Please describe your work on the Authorization Task Force.
I was very honored to have been selected as one of the co-chairs of the Authorization Task Force. My major responsibility focused on shaping recommendations regarding program structure, particularly in light of changes made by MAP-21. The programmatic issues really engaged the APTA membership, and APTA staff was very patient and supportive in setting up individual working groups, each of which had extensive conference calls and meetings. There was a lot of engagement—not only with regard to individual issues that member agencies and organizations were experiencing, but also in discussions to move beyond individual issues to identify and collaborate on developing recommendations that put the needs of the industry first. The work of the Authorization Task Force provides the best example of what a highly effective ­collaborative process can accomplish, and it says a lot about APTA members and staff. I was tremendously proud to be part of it.

What do you like most about your job?
I believe that transportation can play a major role in improving people’s lives. And I have been fortunate to have been able to work on great projects that contribute to making such improvements happen. Very early on in my career, I saw that good ideas aren’t enough. In order to make good things happen, funding, financing, and ­demonstrating societal benefits are essential. That is why I focused on these aspects of transportation policy and planning.

What is unique about your organization? What would readers be surprised to learn?
After 30 years of being the owner of a small firm, I decided to join a large one—HDR. Many people go the opposite way.
HDR has a global network of talent with broad and deep skill sets. Together, we offer clients a full-service approach to solving their challenges. This includes everything from evaluating funding and alternative delivery approaches early in the transportation infrastructure development process to providing design, construction, and program management services during implementation.  It’s a wonderful new partnership—HDR has an excellent client focus and technical capabilities from which we can benefit and the staff of Sharon Greene + Associates enhances the range of services that HDR provides. Together, we can amplify the value we deliver to clients and the industry as a whole. I’m very proud of this new affiliation.

MEET THE APTA STAFF

Meet Chad Chitwood!

Chad Chitwood
Program Manager-Advocacy Communications
Communications & Marketing Department

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

My three primary job responsibilities are external social media, advocacy outreach, and working on APTA media events and interviews.

I am responsible for the social media (Facebook and Twitter) ­presence that refers to public transportation as an industry as opposed to an association. My target audience is people who don’t know about APTA; they just know they like ­taking public transportation.

Advocacy outreach includes everything that relates to APTA’s new campaign: “Where public transportation goes, community grows.” Right now we’re talking to our members about the different branded materials we have available, such as for buses, trains, and Facebook.

The media events I’ve worked on include APTA reports on the increased property values around public transportation, the fact that public transportation connections between airports and city centers make specific regions and cities more likely to host conferences and, most recently, an examination of tech centers: regions that are growing too fast (California’s Silicon Valley, North Carolina’s Research ­Triangle) and will have to either implement new public transportation or build 20-lane highways to meet the traffic needs.

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

Generally, the members with whom I interact are the social media contacts and communications staff members with APTA member agencies.

One of my duties is to set up interviews for general managers related to advocacy/ridership issues. The “call day” event during the APTA Legislative Conference provides GMs with an opportunity to talk to local media about their ridership numbers.

I also deal extensively with people outside APTA. For example, someone at FRA may call me and say he or she is doing something on social media and ask for my help promoting it. Or I may hear from someone planning a bus artwork campaign that APTA can promote through social media. We’ll promote specific media if the organi­zation is doing something unique.

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

A recent (as in the past few weeks) complete rebranding of the publictransportation.org website. Working with external consultants, I helped create a new style guide. We also updated the transit facts on the site to reflect current economic research we just released.

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

I have a friend in the industry who suggested I apply to APTA. I’ve worked here almost three years. My first conference was the 2011 Annual Meeting & EXPO in New Orleans.

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

AI worked with the Navajo ­Housing Authority (New ­Mexico, Arizona, part of Colorado) to inform the federal government of the progress the tribe was ­making in providing safe and affordable housing to members on tribal land. Through that, there were instances where I worked with the highway authority. I didn’t necessarily work in the public transportation industry, and funding issues on tribal land are very different from those affecting the general population.

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

Here are a few things: I was a delegate to the 2004 Democratic National Convention in ­Boston. I live on a boat in a marina on the Southwest Waterfront of Washington. I’m a Kansas City native and I still root for the ­Royals and the Chiefs. I worked on the film Casino Jack, a fictional retelling of the story of disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, directed by George ­Hickenlooper and starring Kevin Spacey. I have worked in several presidential campaigns in multiple states.

Make sure you see Chad Chitwood’s video, now that you've read this!

APTA NEWS

APTA Summit Focuses on Finances

APTA’s new Revenue Management Summit, March 16-18 in New Orleans, has been developed to serve the industry’s financial management sector: fare collection professionals, agency financial officers, and audit teams.

The summit is constructed around a series of case studies presented by agency leaders in the opening day’s two general sessions. The remainder of the summit is dedicated to the practical application of best practices, organized by professional discipline.

If you are in fare collection, finance, or audit, there is no other place to acquire the knowledge that will be shared at the 2014 Revenue Management Summit.

Find out what it’s all about and register here. But hurry. The hotel block closes soon, and the special discount for accommodations won’t last long.

New Public Transportation Infrastructure Database Highlights

APTA’s public transit agency members are working to repair their systems and improve the rider experience at the same time. To that end, agencies are investing in new technologies that tell riders when their bus or train is coming, helping customers reduce wait times.

Transit agencies are installing Wi-Fi in stations so riders can use their wait time productively, and adding countdown signs so they know when their ride is on the way. They are also encouraging ridership and providing better station access by adding bike racks and lockers at stations. The most recent data appear in the APTA Public Transportation Infrastructure Database, which details these changes and more.

A total of 137 U.S. and 11 Canadian APTA transit agency members responded to the infrastructure database.

For example, the database added new information about the information systems public transit agencies are using and whether they are providing real-time arrival information to their customers. Among U.S. agencies, 87 (63.5 percent of respondents) have some sort of automatic vehicle location system that allows them to track the locations of their vehicles and are the foundation of systems that provide real-time arrival information to transit passengers.

Agencies are using a variety of tools to provide vehicle arrival times to their riders, such as posting real-time information on their websites, sending text messages to riders, operating an automated phone system riders can call to receive real-time arrival information, and administering a mobile device app developed by the agency itself.

Transit riders are becoming more interested in being connected to the Internet via mobile devices and laptops at all times. To this end, 24 U.S. agencies have installed Wi-Fi at 43 bus stations and three agencies have installed Wi-Fi in a total of 34 rail stations in the U.S.

The APTA Public Transportation Infrastructure Database is published biennially for the benefit of APTA members and the public. Information on APTA member agencies included in the database is provided directly by the agencies. The report may be downloaded here.

Register for APTA ITS Transit Best Practices Workshop

APTA, in conjunction with the Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITS America) and with support from DOT, will convene the next ITS Transit Best Practices Workshop, on the topic of Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) and Intermodal Operations, March 20-21 at the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown in Phoenix, AZ.

The objective of the workshop is to create a forum that brings together industry leaders among public transit systems using ITS, systems exploring innovative enhancements for their current/future systems, and consultants and suppliers involved in the deployment of ITS.

Goals of the workshop include identifying the state of the art in ITS Transit; building awareness and identify potential opportunities offered by applications of ITS technology in intermodal operations; and enabling a discussion of potential benefits, best practices, and challenges facing the public transportation industry with respect to ITS.

The hotel cutoff has been extended to March 14. so book your room today. Register now by clicking here.

AROUND THE INDUSTRY

Los Angeles Metro Receives FFGA For Regional Connector Project

As it prepares to launch construction this year on its $1.37 billion Regional Connector Project, Los Angeles Metro has received a $670 million FTA Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) to help finance the project.

FTA Deputy Administrator Therese McMillan took part in the recent FFGA signing event, along with Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Reps. Xavier Becerra (D-CA) and Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), and Los Angeles Mayor and Metro Board Vice Chair Eric Garcetti.

The project, due for completion in 2020, will build an underground connection between existing light rail lines: the Metro Gold Line in Little Tokyo and the Exposition and Blue lines, which currently terminate at Flower and 7th Streets. It will also reconfigure Metro’s three existing light rail lines into two lines, one primarily running north-south and the other east-west.

“The Regional Connector will improve the quality of LA’s light rail service by offering a one-seat ride that cuts travel times from Long Beach to Azusa and from East Los Angeles and the San Gabriel Valley to Santa Monica,” McMillan said at the event. “The traffic gridlock of Los Angeles has been the roadblock for many residents who need better, more reliable access to the jobs and educational opportunities offered across the metropolitan area, which is why we are proud to be a partner in the greater transit vision for the future of the Los Angeles region.”

In addition to the FFGA, Los Angeles Metro is funding the project with revenues from the Los Angeles County Measure R half-cent sales tax ordinance for transportation improvements. DOT also has granted Metro a loan of $160 million from a Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act Loan (TIFIA) to complete the funding package for the project.

PATH Opens First New Platform at WTC


The Port Authority Trans-Hudson Corporation (PATH) opened its first new platform at the World Trade Center (WTC) site in Lower Manhattan on Feb. 25. The fully modernized platform—with new lighting, speakers, illuminated signs, escalators, and elevators—serves the Hoboken line. The completed WTC PATH Station will be the center of the new WTC Transportation Hub, which will open in phases through 2015. PATH Director/General Manager Stephen Kingsberry called the opening of the platform “the start of a great thing for all PATH customers and the Port Authority family . . . a glimpse of the future of PATH’s service at this site.”

DART First State, Partners Unveil Improved Wilmington Trolley

DART First State recently unveiled its overhauled Wilmington Trolley service with an event at Rodney Square in Wilmington, DE, attended by Delaware Secretary of Transportation Shailen Bhatt and Wilmington Mayor Dennis P. Williams.

The service operates every 20 minutes, connecting downtown Wilmington with the Riverfront district. DART worked with partners including Downtown Visions, Main Street Wilmington, Greater Wilmington Convention & Visitors Bureau, Wilmington Renaissance Corp., IN Wilmington, Riverfront Development Corp., and Mayor’s Office and City Council to provide improved access to business, ­lodging, shopping, education, and entertainment areas of the city.

“It’s exciting to have this great partnership between DART and downtown Wilmington business groups,” Bhatt said. “It will be a win-win, promoting a fun and convenient transportation option for residents and ­visitors alike.” 

Kicking off service on DART First State’s new Wilmington Trolley, from left: Wilmington Mayor Dennis Williams, City Council President Theo Gregory, state Secretary of Transportation Shailen Bhatt, City Councilwoman Hanifa Shabazz, and Marty Hageman, executive director, Downtown Visions.

State College’s CATA Celebrates 40 Years Since Incorporation

The Centre Area Transportation Authority (CATA), State College, PA, provided free rides all day March 3 in celebration of its 40th anniversary this year. CATA incorporated as a joint municipal authority on May 17, 1974.

 From March 17-May 2, CATA invites its riders and the general public to submit photographs for the second annual “In Transit” photo contest. Information is available at its Facebook page and website.

Also, CATA will sponsor monthly social media contests and giveaways on its Facebook and ­Twitter pages through the end of the year.

VIA Launches Rebranding Campaign in San Antonio

VIA Metropolitan Transit in San Antonio unveiled its new look and message—“The New VIA”—at a recent board meeting.

In addition to a fresh, contemporary logo, the agency’s rebranding effort features a series of multimedia informational messages including television, print, outdoor, and online digital media.

At the core of The New VIA is a commitment to help augment San Antonio’s position as a leader in providing value and quality products and services for all citizens. This commitment has been demonstrated through enhancements such as electronic fare collection, high-tech mobile services, new modes such as Bus Rapid Transit, and improved amenities such as bus shelters, transit centers, and park-and-ride facilities.

“These improvements offer real reasons for people to get out of their cars and ride VIA,” said VIA President/Chief Executive Officer Jeff Arndt.

Valley Metro Celebrates Milestone For Central Mesa Light Rail Extension

Valley Metro in Phoenix recently celebrated a significant milestone for the 3.1-mile extension of light rail in central Mesa: the first official rail weld in the guideway of the future extension. Representatives of the contractor, Valley Transit Constructors, described the rail weld process to onlookers while welding students from East Valley Institute of Technology assisted and observed.

Speakers included Mesa Mayor Scott Smith and Valley Metro Rail Board Vice Chair and Mesa Councilmember Dennis Kavanaugh.

Officials expect the extension to open in late 2015 or early 2016 to central and downtown Mesa. 

Mesa Mayor Scott Smith, second from right, and East Valley Institute of Technology welding student Sierra Jennings, third from right, ignite the first official rail weld for the Central Mesa light rail extension before an audience of local dignitaries and other welding students.

YCIPTA to Launch Lifeline Transit Pass Program for Low-Income Residents

The Yuma County Intergovernmental Public Transportation Authority (YCIPTA) in Arizona will begin offering lifeline transit passes April 1 to low-income residents of the county. The Yuma Community Foundation and the San Luis Community Fund are providing money for this program, matched by the YCIPTA.

The agency can issue these passes either directly or through a partnership with the Western Arizona Council of Governments. Eligibility guidelines follow the federal standard for poverty established by the Department of Health and Human Services: a one-person household with income of $11,490 or less or a four-person household with an income of $23,550 or less. The discounted 30-day pass will cost $30 instead of the regular $60, and $15 instead of $30 for students (ages 5 through 18), seniors (age 65 and older), persons with disabilities, and Medicare card holders.

In addition, the agency will provide a limited number of single-day passes to nonprofit organizations that provide assistance to low-income residents upon filling out a request for donation form.

“YCAT is a part of the community, and those that need transportation but cannot afford it now will be able to get to social services, jobs, schools, and other quality of life destinations,” said Transit Director John Andoh.

Report Highlights Leaders in Complete Streets Policies

Smart Growth America’s Complete Streets Coalition has released The Best Complete Streets Policies of 2013, which examines and scores each ­Complete Streets policy enacted in 2013.

A total of 83 U.S. communities adopted Complete Streets policies last year, designed to provide for safe access to destinations for everyone, regardless of age, ability, income, or ethnicity, and no matter how they travel.

The report outlines 10 ideal elements of a Complete Streets policy and scores individual policies based on these ideals. The top score, 94.4, went to Littleton, MA.

The policy elements refine a community’s vision for transportation, provide for many types of users, complement community needs and establish a flexible approach necessary for an effective Complete Streets process and outcome.

Nationwide, a total of 610 juris­dictions now have Complete Streets policies in place, including 27 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of ­Columbia. Fifty-one regional planning organizations, 48 counties, and 482 municipalities in 48 states also have adopted such policies.

The annual report is available online.

RTC Announces Bus Shelter Safety Improvement Plans

The Regional Transportation ­Commission of Southern Nevada (RTC) announced a bus stop safety improvement effort, funded with a $2.3 million FTA grant, at a Feb. 24 media event in Las Vegas attended by Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV).

RTC officials explained that the agency will use the money, from an FTA formula grant for public transit enhancement projects, to move back or install 150 new and improved bus shelters and 130 benches and trash cans this year. This is the third phase of the program, encompassing bus stops in Clark County, Las Vegas, North Las Vegas, and Henderson.

Representatives of Wells Fargo, The Home Depot, and The Siegel Group attended the event to announce that they will contribute right-of-way for bus stops near locations they own.

Since 2008, RTC has spent about $15 million on bus stop improvements that include placing bus shelters behind sidewalks and conducting a safety study. The study determined the best and most cost-effective way to enhance safety is to move transit shelters at least five feet from the street, whenever feasible. One challenge in installing or moving bus stops away from the sidewalk is the availability of right-of-way.

In 2007, the Nevada State Legislature passed a law to allow RTC to put bus stops on public property and on utility easements. This has helped, but it is not possible at all bus stops, particularly in older communities.

“These efforts are a work in progress,” said RTC General Manager Tina Quigley, “and we look forward to continuing to work with our public and private partners to move back shelters throughout our community.”

Participants in the bus stop safety media event, from left: Mike Tisdale, vice president of residential operations, The Siegel Group; Angelica Pulido-Hull, district manager, Wells Fargo; Gary White, store manager, The Home Depot; Rep. Dina Titus;  City of Henderson Councilwoman Debra March; and RTC General Manager Tina Quigley.

Photo courtesy of RTC

SEPTA Marks Golden Jubilee Year

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) in Philadelphia marked the 50th anniversary of its first organizational meeting on Feb. 18.

The authority will continue the ­celebration throughout the year, ­inviting riders to share their “first ride on SEPTA” stories at a special website and show­casing moments from the past 50 years at the agency's website.

“We often receive calls from the public and media about a place to access photos and information about the authority’s history, but we never hosted a formal place for this. With this anniversary, we look forward to building and enriching an archive with the help of our ­riders, friends, and neighbors,” said SEPTA General Manager Joseph M. Casey. “In addition to their contributions, we’re asking the public and the press to keep an ear out for additional celebrations and festivities as the year moves forward.”

The formation of SEPTA came at a time when ­public transportation in the ­Philadelphia region was failing. Nearly bankrupt transit and rail companies were looking to exit the passenger business altogether. The need for government inter­vention and the establishment of a ­permanent body to run urban mass transit and coordinate regional ­service was apparent.

The initial purpose of SEPTA was to plan, develop, and coordinate a regional transportation system for ­Philadelphia, Bucks, ­Chester, Delaware, and ­Montgomery counties. Beginning with the absorption of the ­Philadelphia Transit Company in September 1968, SEPTA has evolved into the sixth ­largest U.S. public transpor­tation system, ­operating bus, subway, trolleybus, and commuter rail.

DASH Celebrates 30 Years in Alexandria, VA

The Alexandria Transit Company (ATC), Alexandria, VA, is ­celebrating the 30th anniversary of the DASH bus system with activities and themed promotions for each month of 2014.

DASH began service March 11, 1984, with 30 employees and 17 buses. Today, the system employs 160 people and operates with 79 buses on eight routes, as well as the free King Street ­Trolley between the King Street-Old Town Metrorail Station and Old Town Alexandria. The current fleet includes 20 low floor hybrid-electric buses and five hybrid trolley-replica buses.

ATC General Manager Sandy Modell credited DASH’s success over the years to its back-to-basics approach: “Clean and well maintained buses, friendly and courteous drivers, and a community-oriented service have been the recipe for our success. We have been very fortunate to hire and retain dedicated employees who under­stand the importance of excellent customer service and in providing Alexandria with high-quality transit service.”

COMMENTARY

We Are Our Own Best Advocates

BY JEFFREY A. NELSON, General Manager, Rock Island County Metropolitan Mass Transit District, IL, and Chair, APTA Legislative Committee

Congress is once again ramping up the process of authorizing surface transportation programs, and the members of APTA are ready to offer their recommendations.

For over a year, APTA members of all types came together with a singular goal: advancing public transportation in our country. This past December, after months of thoughtful debate and consensus building, our members approved a recommended series of changes to the current federal public transportation program that we believe would benefit the industry as a whole.

While the industry provided consensus recommendations in the past, this time around I am particularly proud of the work APTA’s members accomplished. The Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) adopted a number of APTA’s recommendations to the previous authorization law, which we were very pleased to see. However, our industry also identified a number of changes to MAP-21 and the prior law that they felt would better advance public transportation investment and ­policy in the future.

Recognizing that all systems—large and small, bus-only or rail—across the country are in this fight together, our members adopted recommendations that benefit public transportation as a whole. Instead of pushing for changes that would benefit some systems at the expense of others, we recognized that in order for the industry to grow at all it needs to grow together.

We found common ground on a number of contentious issues and approved consensus recommendations that would benefit everyone. I am particularly proud of this iteration of APTA’s Surface Transportation Authorization Recommen­dations, our final report, which you can find on APTA’s website.

Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, given the looming expiration of MAP-21, Congress has left us with no time to stand around and pat ourselves on the back for a job well done. A ­number of the committees of jurisdiction, including the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, and the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, have begun holding initial hearings on reauthorizing the surface transportation programs; now is the time for APTA members to make their voices heard.

The APTA recommendations provide a path for growth and prosperity for our nation’s public transportation systems and the businesses that serve them. In adopting our recommendations, ­Congress could send a strong signal that they recognize the importance of our industry and that we have their support.

If you recall the last authorization process, the ­public transportation industry was faced with a serious challenge to its funding and dedicated revenue stream. While we do not expect a repeat of that legislative battle, APTA members need to recognize the weight their voice carries with members of Congress and the necessity of voicing their opinions with lawmakers.

The APTA Legislative Conference is the premier event for networking with other public transportation industry insiders about Congress, the administration, and the future of transit. This year, the annual event, now in its 39th year, will again feature discussions with DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx, FTA and FRA officials, state and local government officials, as well as our partners from Capitol Hill. Additionally, there will be an entire session devoted to social media and how it is being used to connect, inform, and advocate. We will also have an Advocacy Resource Center, open all week, where you can find useful materials on current legislative topics of concern.

We ask all conference attendees to use the conference as an opportunity to inform themselves about the state of the industry, APTA’s reauthorization recommendations, and the major issues and challenges facing public transportation. Following the conference, we want you to ask “What am I doing to advance the state of the industry?” We all work very hard, day in and day out, to provide the best possible service to our riders, but Congress wants to hear directly from us, and so we need to go the extra mile.

If you’re an APTA business member, have you hosted a site visit for your member of Congress? Lawmakers need to know about the jobs that depend on their support for surface transportation legislation, and nothing makes a ­better statement than hands-on exposure. If you work for a transit property, have you weighed in with Congress about the importance of your property to ­riders, both commuters and those who are transit dependent?

We cannot expect others to make the case for us; we are our own best advocates. If you are unsure of messaging or how best to make an impact, the staff in APTA’s government affairs and communications and marketing departments are your go-to resource for assistance. They know the Hill, inside and out, and can help you make an impact, but as we have seen time and again, lawmakers want to hear directly from their own constituents. That’s why we need you to get involved.

I know that, working together, we can make the case before Congress and the Administration to provide the investments in public transportation that our communities need to grow and prosper.

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

Sherrie Fisher
SANTA BARBARA, CA—Santa Barbara Metropolitan Transit District (MTD) General Manager Sherrie Fisher, a 30-year employee of the agency, has announced her plan to retire as of July 18.

Fisher joined MTD in 1974, when she was hired as its first female bus driver. In 1979, she moved into an administrative role as scheduler and planner. She next became manager of planning and marketing, then manager of risk, personnel, and operations. In 1988, while retaining that position, Fisher was also appointed assistant general manager. She became acting general manager in 2003 and took over the post permanently in 2004.

For APTA, she is a member of the Bus and Paratransit CEOs and Mid-Size Operations committees.

Michael Burns
SAN JOSE, CA—Michael Burns retired Dec. 31 after more than eight years as general manager of the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA).

Burns’ transportation career spanned more than 30 years. He came to VTA after serving as general manager of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. Earlier, he worked for the Southeastern ­Pennsylvania Transportation Authority in Philadelphia and the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority in Boston.

He was a longtime director on the APTA Board of Directors and a member of several APTA committees.

Kunjan Dayal
CINCINNATI, OH—Kunjan Dayal, C.P.M., has joined Cincinnati Metro as assistant director of procurement and stores.

Dayal comes to Metro from Portland’s Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon, where he was procurement and contracts director, a position he also held at Sound Transit in Seattle.

He is an at-large member of the APTA Board of Directors.

Anthony J. DeJohn, Monir Sarker
NEW YORK, NY—Parsons Brinckerhoff (PB) has announced the promotion of 22-year employee Anthony J. (Tony) DeJohn to deputy northeast region business manager, based in Lawrenceville, NJ, and the hiring of Monir Sarker as a supervising engineer in the Newark, NJ, office.

DeJohn is a PB vice president who previously served as the firm’s New Jersey area manager, responsible for overall operations and project delivery for two offices. He has worked in transportation planning and engineering for more than 30 years.

Sarker has more than 16 years experience in civil, structural, and ­utilities engineering for county and state DOTs and international clients. Previously he was a project engineer with a New Jersey engineering firm. He is also president-elect of the North Jersey Branch of the American Society of Civil Engineers.


Tony Gonzales, Graham Christie, Patrick Somerville, Terence Pao, Frank De Lima
LOS ANGELES, CA—HNTB Corporation announced the following hires as part of its expansion of services in Southern California:

Tony Gonzales, AIA, LEED AP, vice president, Los Angeles area office leader, and West Division architectural leader; Graham Christie, P.E., associate vice president and senior rail and transit practice leader; Patrick Somerville, P.E., vice president, Southern California group director; Terence Pao, P.E., project manager II, project manager, Sixth Street Viaduct Replacement; and Frank De Lima, director of government relations.

Diann Lewter
HOUSTON, TX—Diann Lewter, a longtime Houston resident and business development professional, has joined the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County Board of Directors, appointed by Houston Mayor Annise Parker.

Lewter succeeds Carrin Patman, who stepped down from her post.

Lewter has served as director of the Business Development Program for Central Houston and economic development director of the Downtown District.

Dave Roberts, Bob Campbell, Tony Kranz
SAN DIEGO, CA—Full Access and Coordinated Transportation (FACT) has elected San Diego County Supervisor Dave Roberts its board chair for 2014. Roberts has served on the board since 2006 and was vice chair in 2013.

Bob Campbell, the newly elected vice chair, is a former board chair and a board member since 2006. He has also served on the Vista City Council and the North County Transit District (NCTD) Board of Directors.

Also, Encinitas City Council Member Tony Kranz joined the FACT board in January. He is a member of the NCTD board and the Los Angeles-San Diego-San Luis Obispo Rail Corridor Agency.






Rob Stevens

LIVONIA, MI—Rob Stevens, a 37-year employee of Ford Motor Company, has joined ROUSH CleanTech as vice president of strategy.

As Ford’s chief engineer, Stevens directed strategic ­planning and product development for the company’s commercial vehicles, including the new Transit Connect (2010 North ­American Truck of the Year), E-Series vans, medium-duty and super-duty trucks, and commercial stripped chassis.



Steve Greene

GERMANTOWN, WI—Steve Greene has joined WAGO Corporation as North Central Zone manager.

Greene comes to WAGO after working in sales management, product management, and customer service at Lenze Americas Corporation and Graybar Electric.



Sharon D. Howard

DAYTON, OH—The Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority Board of Trustees announced the appointment of Sharon D. Howard by the Montgomery County Commissioners.

Howard, a member of the Ohio Women’s Hall of Fame, is a communications professional with more than 20 years of experience in broadcast media, marketing, public relations, and economic development. She is an independent consultant for Howard Media Marketing & Digital Communication.

Luis A. Porrello
CAMBRIDGE, MA—Luis A. Porrello, P.E., has joined CDM Smith as senior vice president and national transportation market leader.
Porrello has more than 20 years of experience in the transportation industry, working specifically in traffic operations analysis and Intelligent Transportation Systems.

Patrick Watz
MINNEAPOLIS, MN—Patrick Watz, P.E., has joined HNTB Corporation as rail transit practice leader and vice president, based in the Minneapolis office.

Watz has more than 21 years of transportation industry experience, including planning, program management, design, construction management, and project controls services for highways, bridges, rail transit systems, and facilities. Prior to joining HNTB, he most recently led the engineering services consultant team for Metro Transit’s Central Corridor Light Rail Transit project in Minneapolis/St. Paul.

Karyl Matsumoto, David Canepa
SAN CARLOS, CA—The San Mateo County Transportation Authority, which manages local transportation tax funds created by a county tax measure, elected Karyl ­Matsumoto chair of its board of directors. Matsumoto is the San Mateo County Transit District board representative and the mayor of South San Francisco.

David Canepa, mayor of Daly City, was elected vice chair of the seven-member board.