Passenger Transport - April 4, 2014
New Flyer's Paul Smith welcomes dignitaries and guests to the grand opening of the company's Ontario, CA, facility.
New York Mets fans alight from MTA Long Island Rail Road at Mets-Willets Point Station on opening day, March 31, 2014, and head to Citi Field for the Mets' 2014 home opener against the Washington Nationals.
Photo: MTA Long Island Rail Road
Denver’s Regional Transportation District (RTD) kicked off construction of the North Metro Rail Line, a commuter rail service scheduled to enter service in 2018, with a recent ceremonial spike-pulling event at the future site of the 124th Avenue-Eastlake Station in Thornton.
Participants at the event pulled up spikes from unused tracks on the right-of-way, purchased by RTD from Union Pacific some years ago in preparation for work on the new commuter rail line.
During the ceremonies, RTD General Manager and Chief Executive Officer Phillip Washington noted that this year marks the 20-year anniversary of rail transit in Denver and the 10-year anniversary of voters’ approval of the FasTracks expansion program to build 122 miles of new passenger rail and bus rapid transit across RTD’s eight-county district.
“It’s remarkable to see how far we’ve come,” Washington said. “More than a year ago, this line was not set to be completed for many years. Now, because of innovative financing, working with our stakeholders, and reaching out to the private sector, we are here today breaking ground on the first phase of the North Metro Rail Line.”
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, in attendance at the event, called the new line “a true collaborative effort of all our state and local jurisdictions.”
RTD officials noted that contractor Regional Rail Partners (RRP) will design and build the first 12.5-mile phase of the electrified commuter rail line, and that the final six miles will be built as funds become available.
Once completed, the line will run from Denver Union Station through north Denver, Commerce City, Thornton, and Northglenn to northern Adams County.
Dignitaries prepare to pull up spikes from a former Union Pacific track that RTD is replacing as part of its North Metro Rail Line construction.
FRA has announced a final rule for intercity passenger, commuter, and Class I railroads regarding the establishment and implementation of a critical incident stress plan for employees involved in a critical incident, including those who respond to or witness such incidents. This rulemaking is in response to a mandate in the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008.
Under the provisions, railroads would be required to develop, and submit to the DOT secretary for approval, critical incident stress plans that provide for appropriate support services for their employees who are affected by a “critical incident”—defined as an accident/incident reportable to FRA that results in a fatality, loss of limb, or a similarly serious bodily injury, or one that could be reasonably expected to impair a directly involved employee’s ability to perform his or her job duties safely.
To review the final rule, click here.
Seeks Comments on Rail Side Door Safety NPRM
In related news, FRA is accepting comments through May 27 on a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to create new safety standards that would help improve the safe operation and use of passenger train exterior side doors.
The proposed rule, based on recommendations developed by the Railroad Safety Advisory Committee’s General Passenger Safety Task Force, includes new requirements for both powered and manual exterior side doors and door safety systems on passenger trains. It also proposes to incorporate APTA standards.
See the text here.
Easter Seals Project ACTION is hosting an FTA online dialogue on Section 5310 of the Federal Transit Act, which funds public transit for people with disabilities and older Americans. Registration and participation are open through April 18.
Project ACTION and FTA officials encourage recipients, grantees, service providers, national non-profit and community organizations, state and local agency officials and staff members, advocates, and other stakeholders to participate. The purpose of this online dialogue is to get feedback on the performance measures that can best ensure a public transit ride is accessible, available, affordable, and safe.
Participants will have the opportunity to share thoughts, vote on ideas, and submit questions using an online platform that can be accessed at any time during the dialogue. Discussions will focus on performance measures, determining the best ways to spend the funds, and data collection. FTA will use the information in part to make decisions about future investments and policies related to program providers.
Among other questions, participants are encouraged to provide their thoughts on the following topics:
* What are the three most valuable ways in which Section 5310 funds can be used to meet the transportation needs of older Americans and people with disabilities?
* What performance measures best reflect the value and benefits of the Section 5310 program?
* Please describe the extent to which their agency has or would be able to collect data to report on various performance measures.
* Should FTA combine the reporting requirements of Section 5335(c) into a single requirement for recipients of Section 5310?
For additional details and to participate, click here.
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence recently signed legislation authorizing tax officials in six counties in central Indiana to seek voter permission to raise income taxes to fund public transit.
“We applaud the leadership demonstrated by Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard and by the state legislature on the issue of local transit funding,” said Mike Terry, president and chief executive officer of IndyGo, the state’s largest public transportation system.
The bill, which passed with support from a broad coalition of local officials, business leaders, and environmental groups, would allow eligible counties or townships to assess up to .25 percent income tax to pay for public transportation projects after voter approval.
Passage of the law comes after several years of intensive and coordinated outreach centered on central Indiana’s long-range transportation plan, branded as Indy Connect. The award-winning planning process has gathered input from the public since 2010 at hundreds of meetings around the Indianapolis metro area. Most recent iterations of the comprehensive transportation vision call for doubling the local bus service, establishing five rapid transit lines, and continuing to improve bike and pedestrian infrastructure.
Clifford, Santa Cruz
The Santa Cruz METRO Board of Directors, Santa Cruz, CA, has named Alex Clifford its chief executive officer/general manager. He will take over the job in May and will succeed Les White, who is retiring after 18 years in the post.
Clifford has almost 23 years of multimodal transportation experience, encompassing both the policy and administrative sides of the business. Most recently, he was chief executive officer/executive director for Metra commuter rail in Chicago. From 2001-2011, he was executive officer of high-speed rail for Los Angeles Metro; during that time, he also served five years as general manager of all Metro bus operations in southeastern Los Angeles County. He is a former board member of both the Southern California Regional Rail Authority (Metrolink) and the Riverside Transit Agency, and a two-term city councilman in Riverside, CA.
He has served on numerous APTA committees.
Oliphant, Nashville MTA/RTA
Edward W. Oliphant has been named interim chief executive officer of the Nashville Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) and Regional Transportation Authority of Middle Tennessee (RTA), effective April 1. He will serve until a new CEO is hired later this year.
Oliphant has served since 2002 as chief financial officer of MTA and RTA. Earlier he was director of finance at Private Business Inc. in Brentwood, TN. He is a CPA with more than 30 years of professional experience in accounting and finance.
Last fall, Oliphant received the Nashville Business Journal CFO of the Year award in the nonprofit category.
He succeeds Paul Ballard, who took the top job in Fort Worth.
BY SUSAN BERLIN, Senior Editor
EXPO 2014 is coming Oct. 12-15 in Houston!
APTA holds the International Public Transportation EXPO every three years in conjunction with the Annual Meeting. The EXPO is public transportation’s premier showcase featuring the industry’s latest equipment, products, and services, welcoming more than 15,000 public transportation professionals from around the world.
This year’s EXPO at Houston’s George R. Brown Convention Center covers about 280,000 net square feet of space over two floors. More than 800 exhibitors have already registered, of which 92 to date are participating in EXPO for the first time.
Jeff Wharton, chair of the EXPO Advisory Committee and president, IMPulse NC LLC, noted that this year’s event builds on APTA’s previous EXPOs to offer expanded educational and networking opportunities on numerous topics.
While the main exhibit and presentation area is on the first floor of the convention center, Wharton said, EXPO participants will discover more specialized event areas on the third floor. The Mobility Management for Livable and Sustainable Communities Zone will present innovative, green solutions for transit-oriented development. Nearby are the APTA Center and a pavilion showcasing members of the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials and promoting Disadvantaged Business Enterprises.
“I think the showcases will generate a lot of interest we haven’t seen before from community planners and developers,” Wharton said. “We’re looking beyond the traditional APTA membership to see if we can get exhibitors and potentially, new members for APTA in this area. We’re positioning public transit as part of the larger community.”
Both EXPO floors will also highlight educational opportunities: Learning Zones will display innovative products, and the International Showcase will feature presentations from global organizations on future transportation projects and briefings from Foreign Commercial Service offices on in-country transportation business initiatives and forthcoming projects.
Wharton said the EXPO Advisory Committee is building on the successes of EXPO 2008 in San Diego and EXPO 2011 in New Orleans. “We’ve found that this sort of program has been well received, particularly the international presentations. We’re hoping to attract attendees from more than 70 countries.”
APTA is working closely with Foreign Commercial Service employees in U.S. embassies abroad to help promote EXPO 2014, facilitate the participation of international trade missions and attendees, and recruit delegations to attend from several countries, including Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, France, Israel, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Panama, Turkey, and Uruguay.
EXPO 2014 also will offer special services for international visitors to meet with U.S. export partners, such as an onsite international visitors center offering private meeting rooms, Internet access, phone and fax lines, and translation services (by advance request only). Also, the show’s international flyer is available for download here as a PDF file in English, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish.
Why should public transportation professionals attend EXPO?
“EXPO is all about serving the public transit community by presenting multiple options for mobility,” Wharton said. “By far it’s the greatest venue for businesses to showcase products and services to both existing and new customers. There’s no greater place to find a concentration of customer potential than at the EXPO we’re going to hold in Houston.”
He recognized the city and, especially, the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County for “rolling out the red carpet, getting the city ready for us.”
To register for the EXPO, click here.
Highlights and Events of the 2014 Annual Meeting
Concurrent with the EXPO, APTA will host the 2014 APTA Annual Meeting, an opportunity for public transportation professionals to enhance their knowledge, network, and exchange information on best practices, research, and new trends in public transit. The theme of this year’s meeting is “America’s Future Is Riding on Public Transportation.”
The meeting, hosted by the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (Houston Metro), will be held at the Hilton Americas, which is directly connected by covered walkways to the convention center.
“The Annual Meeting is a great opportunity to expand your network,” said APTA Chair Peter Varga. “With more than 15,000 industry professionals expected to attend, this is an outstanding occasion to learn from your peers, expand your personal networks, and learn more about issues facing the industry. I would encourage public transportation professionals at all levels of their organizations to take advantage of this chance.”
The Annual Meeting offers general sessions with speakers, a report on what’s going on at DOT, presentation of the APTA Awards, AdWheel Grand Awards, the APTA/WTS Breakfast, and technical tours presented by Houston Metro.
Recipients of American Public Transportation Foundation scholarships will be honored at an Oct. 13 reception. Tickets cost $100 and will be available onsite.
In addition, the meeting provides concurrent educational sessions each day. TransITech sessions covering all aspects of public transit technology are being offered throughout the meeting and seven specialized sessions will be presented through the Procurement & Materials Management Learning Center.
APTA will be hosting workforce development-related conference sessions, workshops, and related committee presentations within the context of the Annual Meeting & EXPO.
In addition, members of the Leadership APTA Class of 2014 will deliver highlights of their capstone leadership projects at various committee meetings and as part of their graduation program.
APTA is also expanding its next-generation workforce outreach through youth and student initiatives, reaching out to community colleges, technical institutes, and universities to invite their students to attend the Annual Meeting and EXPO and become involved in other activities.
For example, during the meeting APTA plans to host student-focused workshops led by industry experts to address key issues facing the industry, as well as careers and educational opportunities. Interactive presentations will allow higher education students to showcase research and career fields they are currently pursuing. APTA will also encourage networking opportunities with EXPO attendees. In addition, APTA is reaching out to middle and high schools that feature technical and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) programs to take part in specially designed youth sessions.
In conjunction with the Annual Meeting & EXPO, APTA will hold its Bus Technical Maintenance & Clean Technology Workshop. This year’s workshop focuses on new technology and best practices in maintenance and procurement for public transit bus maintenance, procurement, and materials management professionals. Sessions are open to EXPO attendees at no extra cost.
Find more information, including hotel rates, here. Please note that the only way to make hotel reservations is through links or listed information on that page. APTA has no affiliation with other third-party hotel room brokers soliciting Annual Meeting & EXPO attendees.
Also on the schedule is the FTA Buy America Transit Supply Chain Connectivity Forum, an all-day event Oct. 15 presented by the Manufacturing Extension Partnership of the National Institute of Standards & Technology. The purpose of this forum is to facilitate connections between U.S. manufacturers operating in transit industries and other relevant industries with Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) to help create a broader, more robust domestic transit supply base. It is open to representatives of government agencies at the local and national levels, transit OEMs, and manufacturing companies of all sizes.
Photos courtesy of the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau
BY THOMAS LAMBERT, Chief Executive Officer, Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (METRO), Houston, TX
Let me fill you in on a secret. Houston is hot—and I am not talking about the summer heat.
The Space City is bursting at the seams on many fronts: jobs, housing, cultural enrichment, sustainability, and beyond. Ride along and you’ll see what I mean. METRO is proud to be part of the action, expanding and enhancing its transit reach to keep the city moving.
Come experience it yourself at APTA’s 2014 Annual Meeting & EXPO in this year’s host city.
I am a native Houstonian, and my career in transportation started about the same time METRO opened for business, 1979. I’ve witnessed several amazing transformations from a bus company running with a dilapidated fleet to the buildout of Houston’s first light rail line in 2004. Since opening, the Main Street Line has tallied up more than 112 million boardings, four years ahead of projections. It continues to move more passengers per mile than any other light rail system in the nation, except for the MBTA in Boston. Another interesting and very important side note: Along this starter line alone, we’ve seen $8 billion in public/private development from 2003 to 2014.
As we look toward the future, the progress is astounding. I’m proud to lead an agency of 3,600 employees on the brink of reimagining our entire bus network from scratch. The anticipated new bus network will be integrated with our expanding light rail system, which will soon triple in size, operating about 23 miles of track with the opening of the Southeast (Purple) and East End (Green) lines later this year.
METRO launched its North (Red) Line extension four months ago and, in its first month, exceeded ridership projections.
Let me give you an example of the value of rail in our community. The world-famous Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo wrapped up last month. This three-week event draws crowds every year, and we are proud to help rodeo-goers get to the big show via our buses and expanded rail service. The rodeo helped METRO Rail break ridership records this year with 1.28 million boardings during the 23-day event.
Opening three new rail lines in a year’s time is ambitious. Redesigning an entire bus network is also a challenging endeavor. But I think we can all agree the demand for public transportation is higher than ever. Americans took a record number of public transportation trips in 2013—10.7 billion nationwide. Houston was among the cities that saw its ridership increase.
We are the fourth largest city in the country, and our ridership growth is projected to increase by about 94 percent between now and 2035. The big factors—population and job growth in the Houston region. Accommodating the growth with reliable transit today—and in the future—is key.
We’re also working to improve the transit experience on the digital side. We recently launched the METRO T.R.I.P. app, so be sure to download it before your visit to EXPO 2014 so that you can have schedule and real-time bus arrival info in the palm of your hand. Also try METRO 360—a unique, interactive tool that allows you to try us before you ride us. It’s available here.
Discover Houston, experience EXPO 2014. We’ll have a tour of our Arts in Transit program that showcases a rich variety of public art pieces at our rail stations, and you will be able to visit Houston TranStar. This is where government agencies come together to handle emergency situations.
Houston is more than oil and space. It’s a trove of culture, arts, and museums. It’s home to the world-renowned Texas Medical Center. It has all major sporting teams. And it’s a foodies’ heaven, so bring your appetite. The Bayou City boasts some of the best restaurants in the nation. There’s an incredible array of multicultural cuisines which is representative of our diverse population.
I look forward to meeting you in October. I’ll be the one in a suit and boots. #APTAEXPO
Ready to book your trip to the upcoming Annual Meeting & EXPO? Lock in the best rate by using one of APTA’s partners. (All travel discounts are valid between Oct. 9-18.) Here’s how to save:
Get a 7 percent discount off published airfare.
Promotion code: A53H4BH
Eligible airport: IAH (George Bush Intercontinental Airport)
Go to www.aa.com and enter the promotion code (minus the A) in the box and your discount will be calculated automatically, or call 800-433-1790. All tickets issued by phone are subject to a reservation service charge. The discount is valid for American Airlines, American Eagle, and American Connection. International travelers should call their local reservation number.
Save 2 to 10 percent off published fares.
Offer code: ZR5E663398
Eligible airport: IAH
To make a reservation, go to www.united.com and save an additional 3 percent. Choose flight times and access your meeting discounts by inserting the offer code in the offer code box, or call United Meetings at 800-426-1122. Refer to Z code ZR5E and agreement code 663398. A fee of $25 per ticket will apply to all tickets issued through United Meetings reservations.
Save up to 10 percent on round-trip fares.
Ticket designator: NMHBC
Eligible airport: IAH
To make a reservation, go to www.Delta.com, enter the ticket designator code on the Search Flight page, or call Delta Meeting Network reservations at 800-328-1111. A charge will apply to all tickets booked by phone. Delta discounts apply to passengers originating in the U.S. or Canada and are for round-trip travel only.
Get a 10 percent discount off the best available fare.
Amtrak fare code: Available in May
To make a reservation, call 800-872-7245 or contact a local travel agent and refer to the fare code. The offer is valid with Sleepers, Business Class, or First Class seats with payment of the full applicable accommodation charges. The discount is not available for online reservations, the Auto Train, or Acela service.
In addition, APTA has negotiated special rates with 21 Houston hotels.
To get details and a map of locations, go to www.aptaexpo.com and click on Hotel + Travel. The Hilton Americas Houston is the official Annual Meeting headquarters hotel and is available only for individuals who register for the Annual Meeting.
A limited number of hotel rooms are available at these special rates. To qualify, book your reservation through the show’s official housing provider, Expovision.
Let APTA pay your airfare to EXPO and your registration to the Annual Meeting. Just enter APTA's contest between now and July 18. It's easy:
Get your free EXPO 2014 cowboy hat, wear it on your travels around the country or your agency, take your picture wearing the hat, and post it on APTA's Facebook page or Twitter account using the #APTAEXPO hashtag.
APTA will judge protos on the following criteria: best location, farthest distance from Houston, greatest EXPO spirit, and best team photo. APTA will select one lucky winner by Aug. 18.
Need a hat? Just send an email and include your mailing address and the quantity you need.
Want to see what businesses are exhibiting at EXPO, get the latest information about the show, learn more about Houston, and find out how to register for the free three-day event?
Go to www.aptaexpo.com. The website features information about the benefits of exhibiting, sponsorship opportunities, APTA videos, a video welcome message from the host agency, Houston METRO, hotel and travel information, and show maps.
To really connect with your fellow EXPO attendees and Annual Meeting participants, join APTA's social media channels and be among the first to hear about and participate in contests and giveaways.
Like APTA on Facebook and instantly expand your professional network with 1,700-plus public transportation professionals.
Follow APTA on Twitter @APTA_info and #APTAEXPO to get the latest information and updates.
Subscribe to APTA's YouTube channel, APTAEXPO, to see the latest news and get an overview of the 2011 EXPO.
Join the APTA Flickr group and share photos with your industry colleagues.
More than 800 exhibitors have already registered to participate in APTA's International Public Transportation EXPO in Houston. The complete list, as of March 27, 2014, is available here.
Also, see the preliminary Program-at-a-Glance here.
As public transit’s advocacy education campaign, “Where Public Transportation Goes, Community Grows,” takes shape during congressional discussions to authorize the next surface transportation bill, Passenger Transport had an opportunity to ask several attendees at the recent Legislative Conference about their grassroots advocacy initiatives. Their responses follow:
What are your organization’s advocacy goals, and what plans and practices are in place for achieving them?
AC Transit, Oakland, CA
AC Transit is located in the San Francisco Bay area, where there’s a history of activism on a range of community issues—from public transportation to sports. We are seen as a leader in this area. We have three areas of focus:
First, to quote the late U.S. Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill, “all politics is local.” Public transit systems need to have good relationships with the congressional delegation from their area—not just their individual members of Congress—but with all of them and with staffers too. They need to know about you, your board members, and your advocacy priorities and goals. Share your success stories, newsletters, advocacy fact sheets . . . it’s all fodder for their social media.
Second, use APTA and its networks. For AC Transit, that means the California Transit Association and, of course, APTA itself. I can call or email my colleagues on the Legislative Committee with questions and get good insight right away. You’re never really alone.
Third, build relationships. Get to know people so you hear from them and they hear from you throughout the year. We’ve discovered that a winter meeting can be especially productive. It’s a good time to interact with members of Congress because they’re home, holding events and meeting with voters.
President, IMPulse NC LLC
Mount Olive, NC
Here at IMPulse NC LLC we spend time to develop a personal relationship with our members of Congress. We have multiple congressional districts that cover where the factory is located and where the employees live (and vote).
We have invited our elected representatives to visit our factory and meet our employees. Not only does it provide an opportunity for the member of the House or Senate to see what we do, but it also allows our local community leaders to show their support and reinforce our message for greater investment in public transportation funding for the betterment of the community and state.
Vice President, Legislative Liaison
At Cubic, we are currently focused on the renewal of the two-year transportation reauthorization bill, MAP-21. A key priority in our view is to advocate for greater use of information technology to improve transportation efficiencies and the traveler experience.
One example is to show how “big data” technology can help transportation authorities and operators more efficiently optimize resources and plan changes to their transportation infrastructures. Another important agenda is restoring parity to the benefit program that enables employers to subsidize employees’ parking and transit costs with pre-tax payment.
While there are many aspects to an advocacy program, one often overlooked platform is an automated letter writing campaign tool you can use with your own employees. For example, at Cubic we use Rally Congress, an online service that enables our employees anywhere in the country to just enter their home zip code and then automatically send an advocacy email letter that we wrote to their representatives.
Targeted advocacy by transportation industry technology and infrastructure providers can help influence political priorities, agendas, and policies, contributing to more efficient use of financial resources and better services for riders. In addition, the ubiquity of email, the Internet, and social media creates new ways to achieve these goals efficiently and effectively.
Chief of Staff/Intergovernmental Affairs Officer
North County Transit District
Our board adopts an annual legislative agenda. This year, we’re transitioning from the plan we had in place for the last four years when we focused on funding for PTC. That’s now fully funded, so we’re shifting toward state of good repair and our Camp Pendleton project, where we want to build a transit center on base. Camp Pendleton is the largest employer in San Diego County—75,000 people enter that base every morning and they’re building a hospital so the number of people entering the base is expected to triple in the next three years.
Our focus for this project right now is to educate the California delegation and to partner with the Department of Defense. We’ve just received a letter of support from the Secretary of the Navy expressing support for the transit center. We’re in the early stages of the project, talking with our board members to educate them so they can help expand the voice and reach of the agency.
It’s all about building relationships—telling your story and making sure you help your friends and advocates tell your story. And it’s always ideal to build those relationships when you’re not asking for anything. It’s much harder to start building relationships when you’re asking. And be sure to keep your state delegation in the loop on projects.
Ivan A. Rodriguez
Government Relations Officer
Jacksonville Transportation Authority, FL
At the Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA), led by our new CEO Nathaniel P. Ford Sr., we solidified the JTA’s vision for the future with the Blueprint for Transportation Excellence (BTE), a 20-year strategic plan to transform travel in Jacksonville and stimulate the economy in Northeast Florida. From the BTE, we created Blueprint 2020, a list of ready-to-go initiatives that can be implemented in the next five years to help achieve the vision.
Providing excellent customer service, modernizing the transit system, and preparing for the future by implementing cutting-edge technology are the cornerstones of our mission. Three interconnected initiatives are currently underway: Route optimization, which restructures the JTA’s route network to improve frequency and make routes more direct; real-time passenger information to help customers track the location of the next bus; and First Coast Flyer, a new service that will take customers where they want to go more quickly.
The JTA executive leadership team is advocating for these initiatives by engaging with public officials at the federal, state, and local levels, and through citizen advisory groups. We are also partnering with such organizations as the Florida Public Transportation Association, the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce, and APTA to draw from their expertise.
To find details and to get involved in this advocacy outreach campaign in your community, visit the APTA website
to find authorization recommendations and resources, research-based strategies, ready-to-use ad templates, and other tools to help you translate national messages and activities for local impact.
Chief Executive Officer
Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA), CA
Member, APTA Board of Directors, Bus and Paratransit CEOs and High-Speed & Intercity Passenger Rail committees
How many people are employed at your agency? Please describe its scope.
The Orange County Transportation Authority is the county’s primary transportation agency, with about 1,500 employees and a $1.26 billion annual budget. With 34 cities and more than 3 million residents, OCTA’s mission is to keep Orange County moving with a range of services and programs including bus service, Metrolink rail service, funding for freeway and street improvements, the 91 Express Lanes toll road, rideshare and vanpool options, active transportation planning, taxicab administration and motorist services, and administration of the county’s half-cent sales tax for transportation improvements (Measure M).
Our buses carry more than 52 million passengers annually, while Metrolink averages more than 4 million boardings annually in Orange County. The 91 Express Lanes handled more than 12 million trips last year and more than 44 million passenger trip miles were recorded through our vanpool program.
How long have you worked in the public transportation industry?
My career in transportation spans 22 years, with the last 10 years at OCTA. Prior to being selected by the board as CEO in March 2013, I served as the deputy CEO, the executive director of rail programs, and I held positions in planning, programming, project development, and capital program delivery. Before joining OCTA, I worked at Amtrak for 12 years, holding positions in operations, planning, and finance.
How long have you been an APTA member?
I’ve been involved with APTA since coming to OCTA 10 years ago.
What drew you to a career in public transportation?
I was studying political science in college and what intrigued me most was the development of the urban fabric—the mix of housing, schools, and of course, transportation. As an impressionable student, I thought, “Wow, you can actually make a career of planning those things and improving that urban fabric.” My interest gravitated toward transportation, with the thought that if you could improve transportation in any urban environment, everything else would be easier. Businesses would thrive because it would be easier for employees and customers to access them. Parents could get their kids to soccer practice on time or home faster for dinner. Those parents wouldn’t hesitate to enjoy the city because it would be fun and easy to get where they were going.
What have you found to be the most valuable APTA benefit or resource?
Working with transportation officials from across the country and understanding the perspective of the entire industry has been incredibly valuable when it comes to issues such as the use of alternative fuels or bus axle weights, safety, technology, finance, and so on. Having those discussions allows you to step back and see the big picture. Peer reviews are another valuable resource that APTA offers. One of my first actions as CEO was to initiate a peer review of our health, safety, and environmental compliance. Led by APTA, a team of industry experts with combined experience of more than 100 years was assembled to ensure that we are creating the safest atmosphere for our passengers and employees.
What do you like most about your job?
I like that I get to lead efforts to solve transportation puzzles and to overcome obstacles to build better systems that make communities easier to access. I’m privileged to be involved in projects from the initial planning to the end of construction, when you see how a project has improved the quality of life for people. I also like that no matter where I go or who I meet in Orange County, I know that I’m working for an agency that is helping people—whether they are aware of it or not.
What is unique about your agency? What would readers be surprised to learn?
Because OCTA deals with so many areas of transportation, I think that there are many factors that might be surprising.
For instance, we own more than 1,100 acres of preserved open space with habitat and species that are threatened or endangered. And we’ve already allocated up to $58 million to improve water quality in Orange County. This is all through our Measure M Environmental Mitigation Program, which dedicates funding for open space preservation and restoration and urban runoff reduction as mitigation for our freeway construction program.
Readers also might not know that OCTA owns the 10-mile 91 Express Lanes toll road, which has experienced more than 100 million trips since 2003, and that we administer the county’s taxi service.
OCTA also oversees the Freeway Service Patrol, a team of tow trucks that offers motorists on our freeways a free tow, a jumpstart, or a gallon of gas. This is all part of our vision to create an integrated and balanced transportation system that supports the diverse travel needs and reflects the character of Orange County.
Make sure you see Darrell Johnson's video, now that you've read this!
Educational Services Coordinator
Workforce Development and Educational Services Department
What are the three job elements you focus on the most—your primary responsibilities?
The following are my main responsibilities.
I handle youth outreach and awareness, which includes the Youth Summit, the Garrett Morgan Youth Symposium, and the University Internship/Mentorship Program.
I work on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) efforts and higher education partnerships with schools across the country.
And I’m working with the APTA Human Resources Committee and Higher Education Subcommittee to develop training and best practices for schools, universities, and public transit-related organizations.
Do you have direct contact with APTA members? If so, please talk about the most recent times you’ve helped out a member.
I am in constant contact with APTA members. They call or email me regularly and ask how they can get more involved in our youth and student programs.
For example, I recently worked with one member on logistics and development of a webinar—which was featured in our new HR Committee Webinar series—that spoke to mentorship opportunities and best practices. I have also worked diligently with the chair of the American Public Transportation Foundation (APTF) Board of Directors on rebranding for the brochure promoting the APTF Fellows program.
I work with the APTF committee on several different initiatives: We just reworked the logo and are developing changes to the website.
APTF maintains its presence at APTA major meetings. This year’s annual golf tournament will be held during the Rail Conference in Montreal, and the Annual Meeting & EXPO schedule will feature a reception to recognize scholarship recipients.
What initiatives, projects, or programs have you worked on at APTA that you have taken particular pride in completing?
I take much pride in all of APTA’s youth and student outreach initiatives. We recently extended our youth outreach to STEM schools throughout the Washington, DC, metropolitan area, launching an inaugural program with the Edison Academy of Alexandria, VA, in January. We welcomed 198 students to a presentation on the opportunities offered by APTA and the public transit industry.
The Edison Academy offers advanced technical and specialized courses that primarily focus on career fields in the curriculum cluster of international studies, business, engineering, or scientific technology. Students who attended the APTA Youth Outreach presentation represent several curriculums: criminal justice, education for employment, Junior ROTC, vehicle technologies, automotive technology, automotive collision services, information technology, landscape architecture, and electrical engineering and construction. This outreach is very exciting for us!
This year, APTA sponsored a team from Cardozo Middle School in Washington to participate in the Mineta Transportation Institute’s Garrett A. Morgan Youth Symposium. In the future, we expect to work with another school as well. We invite APTA business members to reach out to schools in their areas, encouraging students to enter this technology competition.
How did you “land” at APTA? How long have you worked here?
I landed at APTA through an internship opportunity at the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials (COMTO) and became a full-time employee shortly after I finished my undergraduate degree. I have worked at APTA for more than a year.
Have you held other jobs in the public transportation industry (besides working at APTA)?
Before I came to APTA, I was employed by COMTO for five years, from my senior year in high school through my internship with APTA, funded by FTA, during my senior year of college. I worked primarily with workforce development issues and also researched existing workforce development programs and models from other associations in the industry.
What professional affiliations do you have?
I am a member of the COMTO Washington Metropolitan DC Chapter and serve on the committee for the chapter’s “Celebrating Women Who Move the Nation” breakfast event.
Could you tell us something about yourself that might surprise us?
In addition to my employment at APTA, I am a full-time graduate student working toward a master of business administration degree and mom to a 5-year-old boy named Zion.
I bring a wealth of knowledge to the organization with my seven years of experience in the transportation industry, especially working with youth and student programming.
Make sure you see Mariah Stanley's video, now that you've read this!
Siemens has entered into a $225 million contract with five state DOTs, led by Illinois DOT, to build 32 diesel-electric locomotives with options for 225 additional locomotives. The first vehicles are due to arrive in 2016.
The state DOTs of Illinois, California, Michigan, Washington, and Missouri are using FRA funds for this contract, part of an $808 million allocation for the manufacture of the next generation of passenger rail equipment. Amtrak will operate the new vehicles on its intercity routes in California and the Midwest.
The new locomotives can achieve a maximum speed of 125 mph and meet new Federal Tier 4 emissions standards. They feature the same state-of-the-art technology as locomotives introduced last year by Amtrak on its highly traveled Northeast Corridor.
The Charger locomotives will be built at the Siemens rail manufacturing facility in Sacramento, CA. All main components will be produced in Siemens plants in the U.S., including traction motors and gearboxes in Norwood, OH, and propulsion containers in Alpharetta, GA. The diesel engines will be manufactured by Cummins in Seymour, IN.
Siemens noted that innovations in the Charger’s engine design will improve ride quality and stability and reduce shock and vibration. The new engines are lighter than traditional locomotives, leading to reduced wheel and track wear. A modular common rail fuel system adds to fuel efficiency while reducing noise and eliminating smoke, and a new engine aftertreatment system enhances air quality and lowers emission rates.
More than 9 percent of U.S. households did not have a light duty vehicle (defined as a car, pickup truck, sport-utility vehicle, or van) in 2012, up from 8.7 percent in 2007, according to a new report from the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute.
The report, the fourth part of a series titled Has motorization in the U.S. peaked?, examines recent trends in the proportion of households without a light duty vehicle as one of several indices of the U.S. motorization level. “Recent studies have shown that—per person, per driver, and per household—we now have fewer light duty vehicles, we drive each of them less, and we consume less fuel than in the past,” wrote author Michael Sivak.
The report also shows wide variation in the proportion of households without a vehicle among the 30 largest U.S. cities in 2012. New York City had the most vehicle-free households, 56.5 percent, and San Jose, CA, had the least, 5.8 percent. More than 30 percent of households in six of the 30 cities do not have a vehicle.
The report is available here.
Palm Tran in West Palm Beach, FL, has introduced a policy that permits Americans with Disabilities Act-eligible customers of Palm Tran Connection paratransit to ride the system’s fixed route buses at no charge. Previously, ADA customers paid a half fare on fixed routes.
To make boarding easier, more accessible, and more customer-friendly for riders with disabilities, Palm Tran is modifying its buses to create one semi-permanent position for non-ambulatory customers in the front. This will provide an open area for customers using a wheelchair or scooter. The agency has also affixed new stickers in each bus near the other front seats, stressing the importance of offering these seats to people who have a greater need for the seat or the space.
The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) and the Philadelphia Horticultural Society showcased floral-themed artworks by area students in kindergarten through 12th grade in conjunction with the recent Philadelphia International Flower Show. The "Fresh Artists Mobile Museum of Mini-Masterpieces"--a SEPTA bus covered inside and out with the children's artwork--will remain in regular service throughout Philadelphia for the remainder of 2014. During the flower show, SEPTA also hosted an art exhibition at its Market East Station.
APTA has partnered with the Alliance to Save Energy as an endorsing organization for EE Global 2014, a two-day event in Washington, DC, that convenes executives and policymakers from across sectors, disciplines, and borders to share policies and practices related to the next generation of energy efficiency.
The May 20-21 conference will address such issues as ISO 50001 and continuous efficiency improvement in facility operations and industrial enterprises, the impact of energy efficiency and clean energy stimulus money on markets, the strategies cities are using to create highly efficient urban areas, and ways to encourage small and medium enterprises to invest in and adopt energy efficiency.
Confirmed moderators and speakers include Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT); Dan Utech, deputy assistant to the president for energy and climate change, White House Domestic Policy Council; Kristen Barbato, deputy commissioner and chief energy management officer, New York City Department of Citywide Administrative Services; and Jim Edelson, director, codes and policy, New Buildings Institute, among many others.
For details and to register, click here.
The South Bend Public Transportation Corporation (Transpo), South Bend, IN, recently unveiled a new website and logo.
The updated, user-friendly website highlights “Next Stops” through the community, demonstrating the vital connection that public transit provides to work, education, healthcare, recreational, and entertainment opportunities. An online trip planning component will go live later this year.
The agency also announced a partnership with the city of South Bend to build a $1.9 million compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling facility on the agency’s current property. Transpo will introduce its first 16 CNG buses later this year.
The Mineta National Transit Research Consortium (MNTRC) has published a comprehensive study of the factors that enable and inhibit the development of effective regional public transit.
While the report, Detroit Regional Transit Study: A Study of Factors that Enable and Inhibit Effective Regional Transit, focuses on metropolitan Detroit and four peer regions (Atlanta, Cleveland, Denver, and St. Louis), its results and recommendations are applicable to other areas as well.
The study examines six factors and their influence on transit development and operation. The areas studied included leadership and politics, governance and law, finance, transit-oriented development, equity and access, and media/public opinion. The overall publication provides an overview and the key recommendations of these six separate reports.
Rather than relying solely on data, the investigators worked with more than 60 people who have been leaders for many years in transit advocacy, development, and operation across the country, drawing especially upon their personal reflections regarding successes and failures.
DOT provided funding for the report through MNTRC, matched by Michigan DOT and the University of Detroit Mercy. The publications are available here.
The Capital District Transportation Authority (CDTA), Albany, NY, is preparing to upgrade its fare collection system with remote readers under an agreement with SPX Genfare. The company’s Fast Fare system processes flexible options including smart cards, printed, and mobile barcodes.
“We take pride in our innovative nature and the benefits it has provided for our customers,” said CDTA Chairman David Stackrow. “Our focus remains improving the riding experience for customers and the implementation of exciting technological improvements such as smartcards and mobile ticketing further highlights transit’s growing role in moving New York’s Capital Region.”
Full deployment of the fare system will include placing point-of-sale terminals in retail stores for the convenience of riders.
The Intermodal Transportation Institute (ITI) at the University of Denver has announced the selection of William J. DeWitt III as its executive director.
DeWitt is a transportation professional whose career has spanned more than 40 years, serving most recently as professor of transportation and logistics at the Maine Maritime Academy in Castine, ME.
He joined the academy in 2007 as associate dean and professor of logistics, with additional responsibility for the Loeb-Sullivan School of International Business & Logistics.
He began his career in 1972 as a management trainee for Burlington Northern Railroad, working his way up to serve the railroad as vice president, forest products marketing and sales. His academic career also includes posts at the University of Maryland and the University of Tennessee.
Salem-Keizer Transit (Cherriots), Salem, OR, recently received two awards recognizing its sustainability efforts: the 2014 Mid-Valley Green Award—Sustainable Large Business of the Year, presented by Marion County Public Works Environmental Services, and the 2013-2014 Outstanding Special District Program Award from the Special Districts Association of Oregon.
The Mid-Valley Green Award recognizes organizations and individuals in the community who are leading the way in sustainable practices and innovations.
Environmental Services evaluated several areas of sustainable business practices for each nominee, including recycling, reusing items, reducing waste, reducing energy use, conserving water, and protecting area streams from on-site pollutants.
“Salem-Keizer Transit has really been thoughtful in the way they are spending taxpayer dollars to save money, reduce waste, and also protect the environment, all at the same time,” said Alan Pennington, Environmental Services waste reduction coordinator.
The Special Districts Association of Oregon presented its honor to Cherriots for the agency’s creation of the sustainably designed Keizer Transit Center. Salem-Keizer Transit received the award within the category “Districts with 26 or More Employees.”
General managers from more than 40 public transit agencies recently sent letters to members of the House and Senate Appropriations committees expressing support for restoring funding for the Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) to pre-FY 2012 levels. The letters support authorization of the next surface transportation legislation.
The letters were signed by TCRP Oversight and Project Selection Committee Chair Sherry Little, among others.
On a related matter, APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy, officials from the North American Transit Services Association, and members of the APTA Standards Development and Oversight Council sent a letter to members of the House and Senate Appropriations committees urging them to fund FTA’s Technical Assistance and Standards Development Program at the level authorized in MAP-21.
The letter stated that the public transportation industry contributes approximately $600,000 annually to the standards program but federal support is vital to continuing the projects and supporting their development and use.
APTA is honoring the 100th anniversary of its transit safety awards program by compiling a timeline of safety innovations, systems, and programs that have changed public transit.
The timeline, in its early stages of development, tracks such landmark innovations as windshield wipers (1904, New York) and the first deadman’s switch in cabs and trippers at trackside (1918, Brooklyn) to the first patented traffic signal (1923, Cleveland) and computer-controlled heavy rail transit system (1972, Bay Area Rapid Transit District, San Francisco).
What additional milestones should the timeline recognize? Submit your suggestions and photos here.
When complete, the timeline will note the industry’s 100 most innovative safety tools, technologies, and practices. APTA will highlight the year-long commemoration in conference awards presentations, sessions, and special publications, and with an interactive display at the 2014 Annual Meeting & EXPO in Houston.
For details, contact Michael Smith.
Civil engineer and certified planner Charles Marohn will give the address at the May 5 Opening General Session of the APTA Bus & Paratransit Conference, May 4-7 in Kansas City, MO, and Scott Belcher, president and chief executive officer of the Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITS America), will provide remarks for the May 7 Closing General Session of the conference.
Marohn will focus on the financial health of all local units of government. By reinvigorating existing public spaces and right-sizing infrastructure, he says, cities and towns can better support a wide range of transportation options, including high-performing public transit.
He is the president of Strong Towns. To learn more, click here.
At the closing session, Belcher will describe innovations such as integrated payment systems, real-time multimodal navigation and trip planning, connected and semi-autonomous vehicles, mileage-based user fees, and open data.
ITS America (see related story below) is the nation’s largest organization dedicated to Intelligent Transportation Systems.
To learn more, click here.
Register now for the APTA Bus & Paratransit Conference.
APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy, right, and ITS America President & CEO Scott Belcher sign a three-year memorandum of agreement to collaborate in several areas, including sponsoring the ITS Passenger Transportation Systems and Services Committee and conducting media and advocacy outreach. ITS America is a national nonprofit organization that advances Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) to improve the nation's surface transportation system.
BY DEBORAH JOHNSON WOOD
Smart transit has the potential to create jobs, ignite development, and connect a city. But is west Michigan ready for the possibilities—and the challenges—that lie ahead? The projected possibilities are staggering:
* $1 billion in development along the route of the Silver Line [The Rapid’s new BRT];
* Increases in property values of 30 to 130 percent along the BRT route, three to four blocks deep;
* Thousands of new jobs;
* An $80 million streetcar line in Grand Rapids’ downtown core that could generate millions more in development; and
* Tens of thousands of people relocating to the urban core, attracted by efficient, fast, reliable transit that gets them to work, to entertainment, and to shopping.
Construction of the Silver Line’s 34 stations is nearly 80 percent complete, says The Rapid’s Conrad Venema, project manager. Amazingly, the high-ticket budget, funded entirely by FTA’s Very Small Starts and Michigan DOT monies, involves no local dollars—unless you consider its tax dollars coming back to west Michigan. This is money earmarked for transit; it does not come out of the pot allocated to fix our roads.
Jobs, Development, and $1 Billion with a ‘B’
Transit is among the top three economic generators, surpassed only by labor and capital, says Grand Rapids Economic Development Director Kara Wood. While the Silver Line will carry its first passengers in August, a proposed future $80 million streetcar line is just that—proposed. A group, independent of The Rapid, has cracked open a 2008 feasibility study to re-envision streetcars for Grand Rapids.
While their purposes are vastly different, the effects of a city having streetcars and BRTs are not; property values zoom for three to four blocks deep along the routes. “There could be at least $1 billion of economic activity generated by the BRT over the course of eight years because there are so many developable parcels,” Wood says. “It’s the number of trips past any location that’s important. Grand Rapids has experienced a lot of mixed-use development in the last 10 years and can use that experience to develop transit-oriented development (TOD). Not to focus development on parking, but on the pedestrian-oriented first floors and encourage residential development and housing, with mixed-use development focused at the BRT nodes.”
Nick Monoyios, The Rapid long-range planner, says that while there’s no empirical evidence specific to Grand Rapids’ potential investments along the BRT route, it’s because no one really knows the dollar amounts that could be involved. “Grand Rapids is trailblazing this effort because we’re the first city in the state to have BRT, so we’re looking at lessons learned in other communities.”
Like BRT, streetcars also cause big jumps in development activities. Grand Rapids Planning Director Suzanne Schulz says the city is ready for the development surge. The planning Master Plan has TOD zones developed. The creation of form-based code streamlined the permitting process allowing staffers to approve projects without having to make developers appear before the planning commission. And although most of Division is zoned Traditional Business Area, that could change.
“With the BRT stations, I could see us changing the zoning to the TOD zoning, which allows higher buildings and reduced parking requirements. We would just need to amend the (zoning) map,” Schulz says. “We rewrote the zoning ordinance to ensure that we would be encouraging TOD. There’s not really anything else needed, but the fine-tuning of higher density residential—there’s a gap from single and two-family residential to high-rise; we’re missing the mid-range residential piece.”
And all of the potential development means potential jobs. Although in 2012 FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff predicted the BRT route would see “some 30,000 jobs in the central business district will be within one-quarter mile of the new bus rapid transit system,” Monoyios cautions that real numbers specific to Grand Rapids aren’t available yet. “If the development is apartment buildings, there may not be many jobs, but if there’s a grocery store, or retail, or medical complexes, that’s a different story.”
So Do We Need Streetcars, Too?
The recent announcement that a 2008 streetcar feasibility study is being refined ignited a hotbed of discussion on news media sites and social media. With a projected cost of $80 million, many Grand Rapids residents are up in arms about spending money on a limited system that still leaves our roads pocked with potholes.
But, says former Mayor John Logie, who heads the steering committee for the study, and consultant Brad Strader, that $80 million will come from private investments. And the $293,895 that will be paid to HDR, Inc. for the study is grant money from federal 5309 discretionary funds and matching state funds, says Venema.
“The streetcar is a pedestrian accelerator—it will expand an area that’s vibrant,” Strader says. “People might walk one-quarter of a mile to restaurants or entertainment, but when you add a streetcar, they’re willing to visit a much wider area of a downtown.”
The refinement study will be done by summer 2014, says Monoyios, and will consider possible new routes due to new developments. It will consider new streetcar technologies that don’t require overhead wiring, it will update capital and operating costs, and it will recommend a funding structure.
“There’s an old rule that goes, ‘a rising tide floats all the boats’,” Logie says. “Younger generations don’t plan to buy a car; they plan to live without one. Why don’t we take advantage of that and make this a place to find a job and live without a car?”
This article is excerpted with permission from Rapid Growth, a website that features news about western Michigan. To see the entire article, click here. Deborah Johnson Wood is the development news editor for Rapid Growth Media.
This “Commentary” section features different points of view from various sources to enhance readers’ broad awareness of themes and views that affect public transportation.
WEST ORANGE, NJ—David Samson has stepped down as chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, a position he held since 2011.
Samson is a partner and founding member of the law firm Wolff & Samson. He served as New Jersey attorney general in 2002-2003.
WASHINGTON, DC—Sam Schwartz Engineering announced the appointment of Heather Rothenberg as senior transportation engineer.
Rothenberg has 15 years of leadership and management experience in transportation organizations, most recently as a data and policy analyst with the FHWA Office of Safety. She has also worked for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the University of Massachusetts Traffic Safety Research Program, and the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center.
She has received honors including the 2013 Jane F. Garvey Award for Outstanding Woman in Transportation (University of Massachusetts) and the DOT Secretary’s Award in both 2010 and 2013.
TAMPA, FL—The Tampa Bay Business Journal has recognized Jeff Seward, chief financial officer, Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART), as its 2014 CFO of the Year in the government agency category
Seward has more than 25 years of local government, private-sector, and military experience, providing leadership for areas including financial advising, strategic planning, economic development and auditing. He joined HART in 2011 after serving as chief financial planning officer for Sarasota County, FL.
LOS ANGELES, CA—Nossaman LLP has named Andrée Blais to its Infrastructure Practice Group. She brings extensive experience in advising on the development and implementation of public-private partnerships (P3s) in Canada.
Blais began her law career as a law clerk for Justice Frank Iacobucci of the Supreme Court of Canada. She subsequently became involved in P3 issues during her career with the Alberta provincial government.
Alex Briseño, Doug Poneck, Lou Miller
SAN ANTONIO, TX—The Board of Trustees for VIA Metropolitan Transit elected Alex Briseño as its chair. Briseño served almost 11 years as San Antonio city manager and is now professor of public service in residence at St. Mary’s University.
The board also elected local attorney Doug Poneck vice chair and businessman Lou Miller secretary. Both Poneck and Miller represent the city of San Antonio.
DENVER, CO—Kelley Rehm, P.E. has joined CH2M HILL as North America business development lead for its Bridges and Major Crossings practice.
Rehm previously was program manager for bridges and structures with the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.
LOS ANGELES, CA—Sam Joumblat is joining Metrolink commuter rail as chief financial officer and treasurer. Joumblat has been with the city of Long Beach since 2003, serving as chief financial officer for the Port of Long Beach since 2006.
He has 30 years of business and engineering experience. A certified public accountant and internal auditor, Joumblat began his career as an engineer with Rockwell International before transitioning to business, auditing, and finance with the Atlantic Richfield Company and later with Arthur Andersen LLP.
LOS ANGELES, CA—The Southern California Regional Rail Authority Board of Directors, the governing body of Metrolink, elected Highland Mayor Pro Tem Larry McCallon as its chair, succeeding San Bernardino Mayor Patrick Morris.
McCallon has served on the Metrolink board since 2010 as a representative of the San Bernardino Association of Governments (SANBAG). He is a past president of both SANBAG and the Southern California Association of Governments.
AUSTIN, TX—Leslie Browder is joining the Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Capital Metro) as its new executive vice president and chief financial officer.
Browder comes to the agency from Travis County, TX, where she served as executive manager of planning, budgets, human resources, information technology, and facilities management. She worked for the city of Austin for almost 20 years as deputy chief financial officer, then chief financial officer, and previously served Capital Metro as chief financial officer from 1998 to 2001.
PASADENA, CA—Parsons has promoted Mike Zabaneh to vice president in its road and highway division, based in the firm’s San Francisco office. He is currently the design manager for the first segment of the California High-Speed Rail project.
Zabaneh has 29 years of experience in both civil and transportation engineering.
INDIANAPOLIS, IN—REO-USA announced the appointment of Alex Ward as a technical sales engineer.
Ward previously worked for ABB Inc., a Wisconsin based global power and automation technology company, most recently as a senior field service engineer. He joined the company in 2009 after graduating from Purdue University with a degree in industrial engineering.
Mark Yalung, Joseph Willhite, Jeffrey Schechtman, Angel Velazquez, Rock Antonios
NEW YORK, NY—Parsons Brinckerhoff (PB) has announced the following hires and promotions:
Mark Yalung has been named Arizona area manager, managing the operations of the Tempe and Tucson offices. Yalung has 27 years of transportation engineering design and project management experience, 15 years at PB, currently serving as an assistant vice president and project manager.
Joseph Willhite has been named deputy regional business manager for the firm’s Texas/Mountain Region, based in Austin. He previously was a consultant with PB’s public finance group. Willhite has more than 10 years of transportation and land use consulting experience, working on multimodal planning projects in cities across the nation.
Jeffrey Schechtman has been named deputy regional business manager for the Southeast Region, based in the Atlanta office. He is a PB vice president who previously served as director of the firm’s U.S. Ports and Marine Division.
Angel Velazquez has been named a principal technical specialist in the company’s Newark, NJ, office. He has more than 27 years of experience in the railroad and transit industry as a railroad signal specialist and lead designer. Prior to joining PB, he served in increasingly responsible roles with MTA New York City Transit.
Rock Antonios has been named a senior project engineer in the firm’s New York City office. He has worked in transportation design and construction for more than 25 years and joins PB after serving as a department head and group leader with several international engineering firms.
Mark Hughes, Osby Davis, Jesus (Jess) Malgapo, Pippen Dew-Costa, Helene Buchman
BENICIA/VALLEJO, CA—Benicia City Councilmember Mark Hughes has been elected chairperson of the Solano County Transit (SolTrans) Board of Directors. Vallejo Mayor Osby Davis was elected vice chairperson.
Vallejo Councilmembers Jesus (Jess) Malgapo and Pippen Dew-Costa also joined the SolTrans board. Malgapo and Davis are the primary representatives from the city, while Dew-Costa will serve as an alternate.
Also, Helene Buchman has joined SolTrans as its planning and operations manager. She previously worked for Gold Coast Transit, Oxnard, CA, as planning and marketing director for more than seven years.
Denis J. Meyers
ALLENTOWN, PA—Denis J. Meyers, assistant executive director, development, for the Lehigh and Northampton Transportation Authority (LANTA), has retired after more than 38 years with the agency.
Meyers joined LANTA in July 1975 as director of marketing. Over the years, he advanced in responsibilities and served as director of special projects and director of development before being appointed to his most recent post in 1990.