Passenger Transport - August 8, 2014
A panoramic view of the Grand Hall at Denver Union Station.
Photo by Evan Semón
Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) General Manager and CEO Richard Sarles hosted DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx, Acting Undersecretary of Transportation for Policy Peter Rogoff, FTA Deputy Administrator Therese McMillan, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, several members of Congress, and hundreds of riders in a recent celebration to mark the opening of the first phase of the authority’s Silver Line—the largest expansion of its rail service in 20 years.
The 11.7-mile line connects the nation’s capital to Tysons Corner, an employment and shopping hub, as well as western Fairfax County, VA. When it’s complete, the 23-mile line will extend to Dulles International Airport and the far western Washington, DC, suburbs.
Dignitaries at the opening event also included Reps. Gerry Connolly (D-VA), Frank Wolf (R-VA), and Jim Moran (D-VA), Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chair Sharon Bulova, Washington, DC, Mayor Vincent Gray, the Metro Board of Directors, and the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Board of Directors, among others.
WMATA officials report that more than 220,000 riders traveled on the Silver Line in its first week of service, and they predict that the line will serve approximately 85,700 daily riders by 2030.
DOT is providing $900 million in FTA New Starts funding and $75 million in other DOT funds toward the $3.14 billion total project cost of the first phase of the extension. The remaining cost is being covered by state and local funding. DOT also approved a $1.875 billion Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loan for the second phase of the extension to Loudoun County—the largest TIFIA loan in the program’s history.
WMATA GM and CEO Richard Sarles welcomes more than 500 people to the opening celebration of the agency’s new Silver Line. Attending were, at left, DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx, and other elected officials.
Photo courtesy of WMATA
As Congress shored up the nearly insolvent Highway Trust Fund with a $10.8 billion funding measure that passed hours before members left Washington, DC, for a five-week recess, APTA members said their summer advocacy efforts would now shift to thanking their delegations for addressing the short-term problem and reminding elected leaders of the need for long-term solutions.
APTA Legislative Committee Chair Jeff Nelson, general manager, Rock Island County Metropolitan Mass Transit District, Moline, IL, said public transportation leaders need to send a clear message to Congress. “Let’s work hard to find a consistent source of funding that will allow us to establish a multi-year program for transit and highways.”
Nelson pointed to APTA’s efforts over the past 18 months to develop a comprehensive set of recommendations for a new surface transportation bill. (The report, APTA Recommendations on Federal Public Transportation Authorizing Law to Succeed MAP-21, is available here.)
“As we talk to members of Congress, we need to describe our story and the impact on our communities,” Nelson said. Further, he said that short-term, piecemeal funding is difficult in planning long-term projects.
He added that the August recess is an ideal opportunity for public transit agencies to contact their members of Congress. “With record ridership at many agencies, the timing is right for Congress to establish a long-term transportation program. Let them know the need for a stable, dependable source of funding” that will allow agencies to complete projects.
“We need to fund this program,” Nelson said. “Congress has not been proactive in finding a solution to fund the program. This latest attempt is very short-term, more diversion of funds than actual funding.”
Private Sector Messages
Cliff Henke, assistant vice president and senior analyst for Parsons Brinckerhoff in Los Angeles, and chair, Business Member Government Affairs Committee, offered similar observations.
“Businesses work best when they have a secure and stable knowledge of the market environment going forward. There’s no better way of ensuring that an environment will remain stable than to support the Highway Trust Fund,” Henke said, suggesting that public transportation leaders convey this message to their members of Congress.
“Thank them for passing the short-term extension, which is better than letting the fund go bankrupt,” Henke said.
“We are ready and eager to make the business case to our policy makers. Many times the message that $3 out of every $4 flow to the private sector is best made by the private sector. We can be the face of those public sector dollars flowing to the private sector,” he said.
In addition, Henke pointed to the importance of a multi-year bill. “Part of the reason there have been band-aids put on this problem over the years has been the lack of trust fund revenue that is sustainable so you can craft a sensible six-year bill. It all comes back to that trust fund issue,” he said. “The long-term trust fund and a six-year fully funded transportation bill must go hand in hand.”
Next Up: Authorization
“It’s great that some action was taken to keep highway and transit funds flowing for the short term, but the job’s not done,” said Carl Sedoryk, co-chair of APTA’s Authorization Task Force and general manager and chief executive officer, Monterey-Salinas Transit, CA.
“We need a long-term transportation bill with growth—one that allows us to meet the challenges that Congress has laid before us to maintain safe, reliable, dependable transit systems that meet the requirements of MAP-21 for transportation asset management and state of good repair of systems,” added Sedoryk,
He advised public transit leaders to focus on APTA’s recommendations as a whole because they relate to and benefit all transit modes and all communities that depend on public transportation.
“Each individual transit operator may have an interest in one specific program versus another,” he said, “but the most important thing we can accomplish is a long-term authorization for all.”
In addition, he said that one of his tasks is to contact public transit leaders who are not APTA members but are represented by key elected representatives and explain how all transit agencies benefit from the association’s recommendations.
“We need to reach out to those folks who are not APTA members and get them—and their elected delegations—on board. The short-term funding is encouraging but we can’t allow it to become the ‘new normal’ in how we fund the transportation program we need.”
APTA Advocacy Tools
In support of its grassroots advocacy campaign, “Where Public Transportation Goes, Community Grows,” APTA has created a wide array of materials to help members communicate with elected leaders, riders, and other stakeholders.
This fall, as people end summer vacations and head back to work, public transit agencies can access “ready to use” advertisements that specifically focus on public transportation’s competitive edge, which depicts the importance of transit in connecting employees to jobs and employers to employees.
Find the materials here and search on advocacy & outreach.
DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx named Therese McMillan as acting FTA administrator on July 30, following the recent Senate confirmation of Peter Rogoff as DOT undersecretary for policy. She has served in this position on an informal basis for several months.
On July 24, President Obama announced his intent to nominate McMillan to the position on a permanent basis. The position requires Senate confirmation.
McMillan joined FTA as deputy administrator in 2009. Earlier she was deputy executive director-policy at the San Francisco Bay Area Region’s Metropolitan Transportation Commission in Oakland, CA.
FTA Chief Counsel Dorval Carter has been named acting deputy administrator.
Voters handed public transportation wins and losses in state and local elections on Aug. 5.
The win for public transit was in the Detroit area, where voters in three counties (Oakland, Macomb, and Wayne) passed a millage increase ranging from .59 to 1 mil to generate an additional $28 million annually to fund capital needs for the Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation initiative. In Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, voters in Wells and Escanaba townships defeated a property tax increase that would have provided additional funding for the Delta Area Transit Authority.
In Kansas City, voters defeated a proposal to enlarge the transit benefit district to fund the streetcar expansion, operated by the Kansas City Streetcar Authority.
And statewide in Missouri, voters defeated Amendment 7, a three-quarter-cent state sales tax that would have provided funds to transit agencies throughout the state, including new revenue to the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (KCATA) for capital initiatives, among other projects.
“There was strong support [for the measure] throughout the state in the business community—the chambers of commerce, the farm bureaus, contractors—they supported it,” said Mark Huffer, KCATA general manager, who added that the new funds would have helped accelerate some capital purchases and expansion plans. “Organizations involved in moving goods or people and in economic development were for it, but they just weren’t in step with the populous that voted.”
Huffer added that Missouri is one of the few states in the country that doesn’t invest in public transit. “There’s general agreement that public transit is important—you have to have it. We just have to find a mechanism to fund it. We have to find ways to embolden the state to invest in transit.”
National Trend? Poll Shows Majority Support Public Transportation; No Consensus on Funding
An Associated Press-GfK poll released Aug. 5 reported that six in 10 Americans nationwide value the economic benefits of public transit, highways, and airports, but there’s no clear consensus on widely discussed proposals for funding transportation-related initiatives.
Gas tax increase: 58 percent oppose raising the federal gas tax, while 14 percent support it;
Tolls: “By a better than 2-to-1 margin,” says the Associated Press, Americans oppose allowing private companies to fund new construction and then collect tolls;
Vehicle miles traveled tax: 40 percent oppose a VMT tax and 20 percent support it; and
State and local funding: 30 percent of respondents support shifting more funding responsibilities to state and local governments.
In addition, the survey found that most individuals—56 percent—say traffic has worsened in their community in the past five years, 6 percent says it has improved, and 33 percent say it is unchanged.
For more details, click here.
The Virginia Railway Express (VRE) and SunCal, the developer of a new waterfront community in suburban Washington, DC, recently broke ground for a new commuter rail station, which will be located in the new development, Potomac Shores.
SunCal will construct the station with design and construction approvals from VRE and its partner, CSX Transportation, which operates 2,000 miles of tracks and 1,700 grade crossings in Virginia.
“We’ve been waiting a long time for this to come to fruition. I’ve seen developers come and go but we got a gem in SunCal who understands what it takes to be a partner with the community” said Prince William County Supervisor Maureen Caddigan, also a member of VRE’s Operations Board.
“I get the link between jobs development and the need for critical transportation infrastructure,” said Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who attended the event. “That is why VRE is so important in linking employees to jobs throughout Northern Virginia.” Also attending the event were other state and local officials, VRE board members, and CSX Transportation executives.
The Potomac Shores station, set to open in 2017, is part of VRE’s expansion plans to provide greater mobility and reduce traffic congestion along heavily traveled corridors in Northern Virginia. VRE is the tenth largest commuter rail agency in the U.S.
In related news, the VRE and Spotsylvania County authorities announced that they have begun construction on a new commuter rail station in Spotsylvania.
“The Spotsylvania station and parking will be a great addition to our Fredericksburg Line, and we are looking forward to opening it in 2015,” said Doug Allen, VRE chief executive officer. Spotsylvania will become our southern terminus for rail operations, he said.
A groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled for Aug. 12.
Doug Allen, Virginia Railway Express chief executive officer, left, and Fairfax County Board Chair Sharon Bulova, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, and VRE Operations Board Member Maureen Caddigan, center, join other local officials at groundbreaking ceremonies for a new VRE station.
Beginning Aug. 18, passengers on Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) can take light rail all the way to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport—and from there, the rest of the world—on the 4.7-mile Orange Line light rail extension to the new DFW Airport Station. DART was completing plans for opening day as Passenger Transport went to press.
DART President/Executive Director Gary Thomas said: “The new connection creates a huge economic opportunity. We are creating access to 60,000 jobs in and around the airport and we are solidifying our region’s status as a global destination for business and leisure travel. It changes the way our community will grow.”
With the introduction of service on the Orange Line extension, DART will operate the longest light rail network in North America, covering 90 miles. Also, DFW will become the third busiest U.S. airport with a rail connection to the city center, behind Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport.
Regarding the benefits of a direct connection between the airport and downtown, Dale Petroskey, president and chief executive officer, Dallas Regional Chamber, said, “One of our greatest goals is to bring more companies and jobs to this region. Light rail service at DFW Airport is a big competitive advantage for us because it’s something many major metropolitan areas in the U.S. cannot offer.”
In advance of opening day, DART has scheduled a special Aug. 15 recognition program for area community and business leaders and elected officials who helped make the rail line a reality. This will coincide with dozens of customer events across the region promoting this new connection for local, national, and international travelers.
The new station connects to the airport’s Terminal A via a walkway. It is also within walking distance of DFW Terminal Link bus shuttle and Skylink intra-airport monorail, which connect to other terminals.
A DART concierge at the station will provide assistance from opening day through the end of 2014. The new station is equipped with passenger shelters, windscreens, seating, customer information, and ticket vending machines.
Numerous local and national companies including American Airlines, Bank of America, Stacy and Witbeck, Reyes, Parsons, MV Transportation, and URS Corporation are sponsoring grand opening events celebrating the takeoff of light rail service to the new DFW Airport Station.
Report Considers Rail-Airport Links
APTA’s recent report, A New Partnership: Rail Transit and Convention Growth, produced with the U.S. Travel Association, examines how cities with rail stations connected directly to airport terminals can realize increases in hotel performance. The report compares six cities with direct rail access to their airport terminal to five cities without that access. The analysis found that from 2006-2013, hotels in the cities with direct rail access generated 10.9 percent more revenue per room than hotels in those cities without. Find the report here.
The platform at DART's DFW Airport Station, which opens Aug. 18.
The Board of Directors of CH2M HILL has appointed President and Chief Executive Officer Jacqueline Hinman as the firm’s chairman of the board, effective Sept. 18. She will also remain at her current positions.
She will succeed Lee McIntire, who is retiring on that date as chairman and director.
Hinman has 30 years of engineering and construction experience. Before becoming the company’s president and CEO, she was president of its international division and president of the facilities and infrastructure division. Earlier, she was chief executive officer of a management financial risk analysis and budget consulting firm.
Chief Executive Officer
Eastern Contra Costa Transit Authority
Member, APTA Executive Committee; Co-Chair, Procurement Steering Committee; Member, Legislative and Bus and Paratransit CEOs committees; Leadership APTA Class of 1998
Please describe your agency’s scope.
Eastern Contra Costa Transit Authority (ECCTA) was formed in 1977 under a Joint Powers Agreement to provide public transportation to a 225-square-mile area that includes four cities and unincorporated areas of Contra Costa County in California. It is 40 miles east of San Francisco, has a population of 300,000, and is governed by an 11-member Board of Directors. ECCTA operates under the name “Tri Delta Transit” and contracts with a private company, First Transit, to operate buses. Tri Delta Transit employs the administrative and maintenance staffs. We view our contractual relationship with First Transit as a partnership and work together to achieve our agency’s goals.
With 220 employees, Tri Delta Transit is one of the largest employers in eastern Contra Costa County. We operate 365 days a year using a fleet of 62 fixed route and 30 paratransit vehicles. Fiscal year 2014 broke all ridership records in the 37-year history of the agency; we provided nearly 3 million passenger trips.
How long have you worked in the public transportation industry?
I started in January 1991.
How long have you been an APTA member?
I became active after attending my first meeting in Austin in April 1991.
What drew you to a career in public transportation?
My educational background is marketing and business administration. Prior to adopting public transportation as my career, I worked my way through the marketing and sales ranks in a few different industries, holding positions in outside and inside sales as well as marketing. The position I held just prior to embracing public transportation as my career was the national sales manager for a textbook publisher. This meant I traveled most of the time.
When I spotted a classified ad for a marketing position that was five miles from my house, I jumped at the chance to stop traveling. I was not familiar with public transportation so before my interview, I rode every route, attended board meetings, and talked to passengers. During the interview preparation process, I developed an enthusiasm about the industry that remains with me 23 years later. In 1995, through a series of events and being in the right place at the right time, I became the CEO.
What have you found to be the most valuable APTA benefit or resource?
There are three equally valuable resources I depend on:
The APTA staff. Without exception, they are helpful, knowledgeable, and always available—which is amazing since I am in a time zone three hours away from the APTA office. Whenever I have a question, need information, or just want to bounce ideas off someone, I can always depend on the hardworking, energetic, and eager APTA staff. It’s like having a whole secret staff of my own!
The networking. I learn a great deal from my colleagues and marvel at the willingness to share information in this industry. My genuine—and sometimes annoying—curiosity about every facet of every part of our industry is always met with openness, collaboration, and enthusiasm. There are many brilliant people in our industry who are not afraid to take chances. Networking with these folks is invigorating.
The Legislative Updates. The updates keep me informed and give me the words I need to keep my board members up-to-date.
What do you like most about your job?
I look forward to going to work every single day because of the dedicated, enthusiastic, and innovative people I work with. The entire team at Tri Delta Transit shares the vision to provide superior customer service. The result is a safe, reliable, efficient transit system that is a vital part of our community. Additionally, being with a small agency means I have the pleasure of getting involved in nearly every aspect of the operation, which is just plain fun as we grow and evolve.
What is unique about your agency? What would readers be surprised to learn?
Tri Delta Transit is a certified Green Business. The Board of Directors and all employees are engaged in making Tri Delta Transit as environmentally sustainable as possible. The protection of the environment is one of our most important responsibilities.
APTA recognized seven members that have achieved higher recognition in its Sustainability Commitment at an Aug. 4 event during the Sustainability and Public Transportation Workshop in Boston, bringing the total of members that have achieved bronze, silver, gold, and platinum recognition to 24.
“This is an impressive cross-section of our membership—large, medium, small, new, and legacy systems alike,” said APTA Chair Peter Varga, chief executive officer, The Rapid, Grand Rapids, MI. “We look forward to many more of you excelling in your sustainability efforts in the future,” Varga said in remarks during the workshop event.
Four APTA members achieved the Gold level: the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District, Urbana, IL; workshop host Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA); Metro Transit, Minneapolis; and Société de transport de Montréal, which hosted the 2014 APTA Rail Conference and was also recognized at that time.
Lane Transit District, Eugene, OR, achieved the Silver level. Bronze level recipients were Metrolinx (GO Transit), Toronto, the first solely commuter rail recipient, and Stacy and Witbeck at its Portland, OR, offices, the first construction firm member to receive recognition.
Also at the luncheon session, FTA Deputy Administrator Therese McMillan spoke about the interconnection of economic, environmental, and social sustainability. She pointed to the importance of public transit in taking people to work, the link between high-quality transportation and healthcare, the role of public transit in creating and maintaining affordable housing, and the way public transportation investments can help build neighborhoods.
Regarding Congress’ passage of Highway Trust Fund legislation that also extends surface transportation authorization through May 31, 2015, she said: “You’ve spent decades convincing local leaders to take sustainability into account. To do that, we need to be able to plan for decades, not six months at a time.”
The chair and vice chair of APTA’s Sustainability Committee, Susannah Kerr Adler, executive vice president-marketing and business development, SYSTRA Engineering Inc., New York, and J. Barry Barker, executive director, Transit Authority of River City, Louisville, KY, joined Varga in making the presentations.
Other workshop highlights included a Host Forum addressing the green design and transit-oriented development elements of MBTA’s Green Line Extension; a plenary session on programs, policy, and innovations for sustainable communities; seminars on integrating sustainability into an organization; a session examining international perspectives on sustainability; and peer exchanges describing how public transit agencies are working with planners, architects, and developers.
APTA Chair Peter Varga, chief executive officer, The Rapid, Grand Rapids, MI, second from left; TARC Executive Director Barry Barker, vice chair, Sustainability Committee, far left; FTA Deputy Administrator Therese McMillan, third from left; and SYSTRA Engineering Inc. Executive Vice President Susannah Kerr Adler, chair, Sustainability Committee, far right, congratulate APTA members who received higher recognition in the association’s Sustainability Commitment. Among those recognized were, at center, Karl Gnadt, managing director, Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District, and Beverly Scott, general manager/chief executive officer, Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.
Photo by Susana Hey, courtesy of MBTA
Participants gather to visit Hingham Shipyard, one of several Sustainability in Action tours conducted by host agency MBTA during APTA’s recent Sustainability and Public Transportation Workshop. Hingham, MBTA’s most frequently used terminal in its ferry system, has been transformed from a former shipbuilding facility to a mixed-use community. MBTA is constructing a new ferry terminal building, which includes many sustainable design elements.
Photo courtesy of Peter Varga
APTA’s Annual Meeting & EXPO, Oct. 12-15 in Houston, continues to grow, as programs, speakers, technical forums, and committee meetings are added to the schedule.
Here’s what’s new since Passenger Transport’s special July 28 Annual Meeting & EXPO preview issue:
Commemorating the 25th Anniversary of the American with Disabilities Act (ADA). In 2015, the nation will honor the 25th anniversary of the ADA Act of 1990. APTA will observe this milestone throughout the year with sessions at conferences and meetings, communications initiatives, and forums with key stakeholders, including representatives of the disability community, among other activities. Join your colleagues at this roundtable discussion.
Small Operators, Innovations and Best Practices. This session focuses on how systems with 100 or fewer vehicles leverage their opportunities. APTA’s small transit systems are featured as they highlight innovative practices covering a range of topics.
Safety Management Systems & MAP-21, a special safety workshop offered by DOT’s Transportation Safety Institute, addresses safety risk management, assurance, and promotion. It also features how Safety Management Systems (SMS) dovetail with the industry’s current system safety practices and how SMS provides an exciting, comprehensive approach to organizational safety.
The Annual Meeting also features dozens of ways for members to put their expertise to work in a mode- or practice-specific committee or subcommittee on subject areas ranging from conference and program planning to legislative issues to standards policies and business member procurement and capital projects. Committees meet from Saturday, Oct. 11 through Monday, Oct. 13. Most committees are open to members. Go to the APTA website and click on About APTA for details.
EXPO news includes the development of Plaza 3, located on the third floor of the George R. Brown Convention Center and home to the following special services, exhibitors, and attractions:
* EXPO Sustainability Showcase, which includes innovative products that strive to meet standards of environmental quality, social well-being, and economic growth;
* COMTO Pavilion, a one-stop location for DBE exhibitors and COMTO news; and
* APTA Center, an easy-to-use centralized location for all of the association’s news, information, and special EXPO-related offers.
Plaza 3 also includes EXPO’s registration area and several restaurants to facilitate meetings and networking.
The Annual Meeting & EXPO is hosted by Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (METRO). For additional details and to register, click here.
See Houston by Rail
Photo courtesy of Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau
APTA invites its members to submit abstracts by Sept. 3 for papers and presentations for the 2015 Bus & Paratransit Conference, May 3-6 in Fort Worth, TX, and the 2015 Rail Conference, June 21-24 in Salt Lake City.
Both the Bus & Paratransit Conference Planning Subcommittee and the Rail Conference Planning Subcommittee will hold meetings Oct. 11 in Houston, prior to the APTA Annual Meeting & EXPO, where participants will report on the abstracts and consider how they can be organized into educational sessions.
Information for both bus and rail topics is available on the APTA website by clicking “Meetings & Conferences.” More information is available from Cheryl Pyatt.
Nippon Sharyo Manufacturing LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Nippon Sharyo U.S.A. Inc., celebrated the opening of its expanded railcar production facility, Shop 3, in Rochelle, IL, on July 30.
Shop 3 covers 328,000 square feet on 22 acres, while Shops 1 and 2, which opened on the site in 2012, jointly cover 481,000 square feet on 35 acres.
During the event, FRA Administrator Joseph Szabo noted that the new facility will add 90 positions to 400-plus jobs the plant has provided since its opening. Shop 3’s first major order is for 130 next-generation bi-level railcars for California, Illinois, and the Midwest, with an option for another 300 vehicles, as a result of a procurement funded through the federal High-Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail program.
Szabo also cited the economic ripple effect of the new factory: Subcontractors working with Nippon Sharyo will add even more jobs to the U.S. economy.
Other speakers at the opening ceremonies included Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn; Bruce Roberts, acting chief, Caltrans Division of Rail; Joseph Shacter, director of the Illinois DOT Division of Public and Intermodal Transportation; and Nippon Sharyo Chairman Katsuyuki Ikushima.
“Nippon Sharyo continues to create good-paying jobs while producing products that will propel us into the future of transportation,” Quinn said.
As part of Nippon Sharyo’s opening ceremonies for its Shop 3 in Rochelle, IL, dignitaries including FRA Administrator Joseph Szabo, fifth from left, wore traditional happi coats and toasted with sake served in small wooden boxes called masu. Akira Koyasu, far right, president of Nippon Sharyo U.S.A., led the toast. This ceremony represents a wish for harmony and good fortune. On the table at right is a Daruma doll, made from red papier-mache in the image of Zen Buddhism founder Bodhidharma, representing good luck and overcoming hardship to find success.
Five U.S. public transportation agencies are celebrating noteworthy anniversaries in 2014.
Denver RTD, 45
Denver’s Regional Transportation District (RTD) marked its 45th anniversary on July 1. While the city’s history of public transportation dates to horse cars in the 1800s, the creation of RTD on July 1, 1969, began the age of serving the whole region through a single public transportation agency.
In 1973, voters approved RTD funding through sales taxes to create an integrated regional public transportation system. During the next few years, RTD acquired several suburban bus services, creating a unified agency for the region’s public transportation. The agency opened its first light rail line in 1994, began paratransit in 1995, and saw voters approve the FasTracks sales tax initiative in 2004.
The public transit agency in York, PA—rabbittransit—is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.
The York County Commissioners formed the agency on Nov. 1, 1974, with the name York Area Transit Authority (YATA). More recently, the agency merged with the Adams County Transit Authority and changed its name to the York Adams Transportation Authority. The organization operates public transit services in York, Adams, and Northumberland counties and rebranded itself as rabbittransit in 2000.
The agency has begun its year-long celebration with a commemorative logo, will offer fun facts about its history on Facebook, and will conduct promotions and events. A birthday party and free rides are scheduled Nov. 1 at rabbittransit’s downtown Transfer Center.
The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) recently held a special event, “The Way We Rode,” to honor its 35 years of history.
The program included an exhibit of vintage and modern-day buses, displays that chronicled special moments over the years, and an overview of MARTA’s impact on the region. A video tribute to MARTA’s history featured interviews with luminaries including former President Jimmy Carter, U.S. Rep. and civil rights icon John Lewis (D-GA), and community leader/MARTA Board Member Juanita Abernathy.
Metra commuter rail recently celebrated the 30th anniversary of its founding as a new entity created to oversee all of Chicago’s commuter rail operations. This was the latest part of a history of passenger rail dating back more than a century and, more recently, the creation of the Regional Transportation Authority in 1974.
“When we sell ‘Metra’ to potential new riders, they’ll know we mean an entire rail service for the whole metropolitan area,” said Jeffrey Ladd, Metra’s first board chairman.
Ventura County Transportation Commission, 20 and 25
The Ventura County Transportation Commission (VCTC), CA, recently achieved two major milestones: its 25th anniversary as the county’s regional transportation planning agency and its 20th anniversary as the operator of VISTA, the county’s most extensive intercommunity bus service.
In recent years, VCTC has expanded VISTA bus service, expanded its commuter services program through partnerships with local employers and annual promotions, and allocated nearly $279 million in state Proposition 1B funds to support highway and bridge improvements. The commission also has made it a priority to create user-friendly resources for its customers that match trends and technological advancements.
DOT’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently proposed a new federal motor vehicle safety standard related to motor coach and other large buses in the event of rollovers. The proposal affects some public transit agencies that use over-the-road coaches for commuter bus service.
The proposed standard would establish performance requirements that each new motor coach and large bus must meet when subjected to a dynamic test in which the bus is tipped over from a raised platform onto a hard level surface. It would also require
* Space around occupant seating positions to be maintained;
* Seats, overhead luggage racks, and window glazing to remain attached to their mountings during and after the test; and
* Emergency exits to remain closed during the rollover test and operable after the test.
Click here to see an early version of the NPRM.
Los Angeles Metro recently received a local Emmy Award for an episode of its quarterly Metro Motion television show commemorating the 75th anniversary of Los Angeles Union Station. The broadcast, which aired prior to the Union Station anniversary celebration earlier this year, features interviews with many key players in the station’s story including Metro Chief Executive Officer Art Leahy.
The show recounts the story of the great rail station that opened in 1939: its history, its role as a transit hub anchoring today’s expanding public transit network, and its future as the center of mobility for the Los Angeles region. In addition to serving 70,000 daily commuters on Metro rail and bus, Metrolink commuter rail, other municipal carriers, Union Station has and continues to appear in films, TV shows, and commercials.
Metro Motion, a co-production of Metro and Santa Monica City TV, runs on 80 cable stations throughout Los Angeles County. To see the Emmy-winning show, click here.
“Underfoot,” a sculpture by artist and educator Rachel Buse, is one of four artworks currently on display inside a Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority bus. The “Art on DART” pilot project showcases pieces of sculpture, works on paper, and paintings in gallery-like displays through Aug. 17. The bus will rotate throughout DART services as usual, with location updates available on Twitter by following @ridedart.
As part of a partnership between the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) and the Monterey Bay Aquarium promoting free student field trips, BART has wrapped five railcars with the image of an octopus. Tom Blaylock, BART board vice president, joined members of the aquarium’s “Team Tentacles” to unveil the railcars at BART’s Hayward Shop. The aquarium is providing funds for approximately 40,000 students (up to age 18), teachers, and chaperones to ride BART free for educational field trips.
Here's a roundup of news from public transportation’s transit agencies and private sector companies.
Two Illinois Agencies Sponsor Global Meeting — Metra in Chicago and the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District in Urbana, IL, were among the sponsors of the 2014 Global Level Crossing Safety & Trespass Prevention Symposium, Aug. 3-8, at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. This conference brought together experts from around the world to discuss the latest research and share best practices to improve the safety of at-grade rail crossings and prevent railway trespassing. The title of the symposium was “Achieving the Three ‘E’s’ of Engineering, Education, and Enforcement, Then Moving Beyond to Evaluation, Encouragement, and Emergency Response.”
The T Improves Wi-Fi — Boston’s Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) has entered into a license agreement with inMOTION Wireless Inc. to install an updated Wi-Fi system throughout the agency’s 14 commuter rail lines, as well as commuter boats and the South, North, and Back Bay stations. Under a 22-year license agreement, inMOTION Wireless will build a $5.6 million system that will expand and improve both the availability and quality of the existing Wi-Fi service at no cost to the MBTA or its customers. Access to the Internet will be free, but premium service will be available for an added charge.
Lytx to Equip GCRTA Buses — Lytx Inc., formerly DriveCam Inc., signed an agreement with the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA) to outfit its fleet of 400-plus buses with the company’s video-based driver safety program. The agreement comes after GCRTA’s six-month trial that included 100 vehicles and side-by-side comparisons of each participating vendor. The program’s video recorder, placed on a vehicle’s windshield, provides data on risky driving events, thus allowing agencies to focus on operators who need coaching.
OCTA Upgrades Bus Stops — The Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) in Orange, CA, has voted to award $1.2 million in county sales tax funds to upgrade 51 of its busiest bus stops. The upgrades are part of the Measure M Safe Transit Stops program. OCTA will install shelters, replace aging shelters, repair amenities, and add bike racks and trash receptacles at select stops. The board also approved $370,000 to expand and improve real-time bus schedule information to cell phone users as part of a regional program.
Minnesota Public Radio Teams with Metro Transit — Metro Transit in Minneapolis-St. Paul is partnering with MPR’s Sound Point program to provide Green Line riders with an audio tour of the public art on display at each of the new light rail line’s 18 stations. “There are millions of stories related to the neighborhoods served by the Green Line,” said General Manager Brian Lamb. “Public art at stations helps express the unique stories of those communities, and Sound Point allows artists to express the stories behind these inspiring works.”
Broward County Transit and Palm Tran Get EASY — The Broward County Board of County Commissioners, Pompano Beach, FL, has approved a pilot project that will enable Broward County Transit (BCT) and Palm Tran, West Palm Beach, to accept the EASY Card, a reloadable smart card, and to test mobile ticketing and other fare collection technologies. The region’s other two public transit agencies—Miami-Dade Transit and South Florida Regional Transportation Authority, also in Pompano Beach—use the EASY Card. “The vision for this multi-agency project is seamless travel and fare payment options for our passengers throughout the southeast Florida region,” said Tim Garling, director, Broward County Transit Division.
Thames Clippers Launch Mobile Ticketing — Thames Clippers, a commuter “water bus” that operates under license from Transport for London, has made smartphone ticketing available on its central London service, permitting users to buy tickets anywhere, anytime, and enabling rapid boarding on the river-based line. The service uses Masabi’s JustRide, a cloud-based mobile ticketing and fare collection system that comprises apps for ticket purchase, display, and validation with infrastructure for secure payments, ticket management, customer service, and real-time analytics.
Pittsburgh’s Port Authority Wins Award — The Port Authority of Allegheny County received a 2014 Film/Video Bronze Telly Award for a 60-second video promoting its ConnectCard. The video, produced as part of the agency’s year-long sponsorship with the Pittsburgh Pirates, follows the team mascot, the Pirate Parrot, as he rides the light rail system and uses his ConnectCard to get to the ballpark. The Telly Awards honor outstanding local, regional, and cable TV commercials and programs. To see the Port Authority’s spot, click here.
Tunneling Complete for Muni Subway Extension — The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which oversees all transportation in the city including the San Francisco Municipal Railway (Muni), announced the completion of tunneling for Muni’s Central Subway Project, the major extension of its Metro T Third Line. The two 350-foot-long, 750-ton machines each tunneled 8,500 feet (at an average pace of 40 feet a day) to construct two tunnels, which will allow T Third Line trains to travel faster when the Central Subway opens in 2019, cutting travel times by more than half.
Mariah Stanley, educational services coordinator in APTA’s Workforce Development and Educational Services Department, received a Conference of Minority Transportation Officials (COMTO) scholarship, funded by Parsons Brinckerhoff, during the organization’s recent Annual Meeting in Atlanta.
The Parsons Brinckerhoff Women in Leadership Scholarship, awarded for the first time this year, is presented to a female student pursuing a master’s degree in civil engineering or related studies with an interest in leadership in transportation. Stanley is pursuing a master of business administration degree at Trinity Washington University.
COMTO offers a variety of scholarships ranging from $2,500 to $6,000. This year, COMTO awarded $48,500 to 15 high school graduates, college students, and industry professionals, all of whom are continuing or pursuing careers in transportation.
Who's saying what about the short-term patch to the Highway Trust Fund? These excerpts from opinion pieces and blogs reflect some national perspectives released a few days following congressional approval of the bill.
LAKEWOOD, WA—Lynne Griffith, chief executive officer of Pierce Transit since 2006, has announced her plans to retire effective Dec. 31.
Griffith is a member of the APTA Bus and Paratransit CEOs, Legislative, and Mid-Size Operations committees.
Libby Downey, Tony Barrera, Marie Orozco
MONTEREY, CA—The Monterey-Salinas Transit Board of Directors elected Monterey City Councilmember Libby Downey as its chair and Salinas City Councilmember Tony Barrera as vice chair. Downey has served on the MST board since 2005 and Barrera joined the board in 2013. Maria Orozco, the former board chair and mayor of the city of Gonzales, remains on the board.
POMPANO BEACH, FL—The South Florida Regional Transportation Authority (SFRTA) has named Richard Chess director of finance, effective July 21.
Chess joins SFRTA after serving as director of finance and accounting for the city of College Park, GA.
Bruno Barreiro, James A. (Jim) Cummings
POMPANO BEACH, FL—Miami-Dade County Commissioner Bruno Barreiro has been elected chair of the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority Governing Board. Broward County businessman James A. (Jim) Cummings was elected vice chair.
Barreiro was first elected as board chair in 2006 and re-elected in 2007 and 2010. He earlier served on the former Tri-County Commuter Rail Authority Board of Directors, including service as vice chair and chair.
Cummings joined the board in 1997, served as vice chair in 2000-2001 and as chair in 2001-2002. He and his partners started James A. Cummings Inc. in 1981.
MISSISSAUGA, ON—Marsha Moore has joined Trapeze Group as chief technology officer for Trapeze Group North America. Moore has worked in information technology for more than 30 years, most recently as chief technology officer for MV Transportation.
Michael J. Petrisko, John A. Arnold
MARLTON, NJ—Hill International announced the appointments of Michael J. Petrisko as senior vice president and chief information, based in the company’s headquarters in Marlton, and John A. Arnold as senior vice president and managing director (Europe) for Hill’s Project Management Group, based in Madrid, Spain.
Petrisko previously served the company in this position from 2007-2012. He has more than 30 years of information technology experience.
Arnold was Hill’s senior vice president and international corporate counsel before his promotion. He has more than 40 years experience.
Vickie Miller, Thomas Algatt
ALEXANDRIA, VA—Operation Lifesaver Inc. has named Vickie Miller to lead its North Carolina branch, succeeding Vivian Bridges, and Thomas Algatt to head the Pennsylvania state program, succeeding Don Lubinsky.
Miller has 20 years of public service experience at the state and local levels. Algatt, a web designer and professional IT consultant, is a 22-year veteran of the Pennsylvania State Police.
SAN DIEGO—Cubic Transportation Systems has named Steve Brunner vice president of operations, North America.
Brunner joined Cubic in 1983 and most recently was vice president and regional director for the Eastern U.S.
Patrick Anderson, Joseph F. Miller, Brigette Thomas, Rex Plummer, Robert (Bob) Clifford, Charles (Chuck) Reed
NEW YORK—Parsons Brinckerhoff (PB) has announced the following appointments:
Patrick Anderson has been named Texas transit and rail manager, based in Austin. He previously was director of transportation
programs for an international engineering firm.
Joseph F. Miller is joining the Dallas office as a senior systems supervising engineering manager. He has more than 40 years of rail system experience, working earlier with PB from 1997-2004.
Brigette Thomas is the new U.S. West business development manager in PB’s San Francisco office. Previously she was marketing manager for a global engineering and environmental firm.
Rex Plummer has been named PB’s San Diego area manager. He has more than 40 years experience and joined the firm in 2010 as a senior engineering manager.
Robert (Bob) Clifford, executive director of the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority from 2009-2014, has joined PB as vice president and Tampa area manager. Clifford has 28 years of experience in transportation planning and construction.
Charles (Chuck) Reed has joined PB’s New York City office as a supervising communications and security engineer. He has more than 15 years of security and communications systems design and engineering experience.
FRANKLIN, TN—Ramon Cisneros has joined the Franklin Transit Authority board, appointed by the city’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen. Cisneros is president and chief executive officer of Millennium Marketing LLC. He is a safety and environmental engineer with experience in transportation and project management.
NEW YORK—William Crosbie, president and chief executive officer of SYSTRA USA since 2012, has been appointed senior vice president of SYSTRA North America. Crosbie earlier served as Amtrak’s chief operating officer.
WASHINGTON, DC—Doug Allen, chief executive officer, Virginia Railway Express, has joined the advisory board of the Getting America to Work coalition.
This coalition is working to educate Congress about the critical need to find a sustainable funding solution for public transit systems.
Karen J. Kacynski
MUSKEGON, MI—The Muskegon Area Transit System announced the hiring of Karen J. Kacynski as transit marketing specialist. Kacynski has more than 25 years of marketing and communications experience.
Patricia (Tricia) Walsh
PASADENA, CA—Patricia (Tricia) Walsh has joined Parsons’ transportation business unit as vice president and director of business development-Midwest, based in Chicago. Walsh has worked in the transportation sector for more than 18 years.
Debra A. Johnson
LONG BEACH, CA—Long Beach Transit has named Debra A. Johnson its deputy chief executive officer.
She has more than 20 years of public transportation leadership experience, most recently as interim chief operations officer with Los Angeles Metro.
Gary L. McArthur, JoAnn Shea
DENVER—Gary L. McArthur is joining CH2M HILL as executive vice president and chief financial officer. McArthur comes to the firm from Harris Corporation, where he served as chief financial officer since 2006.
JoAnn Shea, who had served as acting chief financial officer, will return to her position as chief accounting officer and controller.
ISELIN, NJ—Leslie Samel, P.E., has joined Hatch Mott MacDonald as a senior project manager in the Jacksonville, FL, office.
Samel has more than 14 years experience. Most recently she was client service leader and senior project manager for a large engineering firm.
YORK, PA—Jon Kugler is the new human resources director at rabbittransit. He succeeds Patricia A. Miller, who retired. Kugler has 18 years of human resources experience, serving most recently as a human resources director in the public school system.
Patrick G. Emery, Rogers Anderson, Bill Lockwood, Mark Robbins, Julian L. Bibb
FRANKLIN, TN—The TMA Group has elected the following officers for 2014-2016: chairman, Patrick G. Emery; vice chair, Rogers Anderson; secretary, Bill Lockwood; treasurer, Mark Robbins; and immediate past chair, Julian L. Bibb.
Emery is president of Spectrum | Emery, a commercial real estate company. Anderson is currently serving his third term as Williamson County mayor. Lockwood is a vice president with Barge, Waggoner, Sumner and Cannon Inc. and a registered landscape architect. Robbins is a restaurateur.
Gary Wildish, Carl Yeh, Julie Grossman, Ed Necker
EUGENE, OR—The Lane Transit District Board of Directors has elected Gary Wildish, a retired civil engineer, to a two-year term as its president. He is completing the term of Greg Evans, a former member of the APTA Executive Committee and APTA Board of Directors.
Carl Yeh, the new vice president, is director of student conduct and community standards at Oregon State University. He is in his second year on the board.
Julie Grossman, associate executive director of the Eugene YMCA, was named secretary.
Ed Necker, treasurer, was appointed to his second term on the LTD board by Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber. He is a veteran, a retiree, and a disability rights activist at the local and state levels.